How your identity could be stolen offline

Fraudsters can steal your identity in many ways online. An identity thief can target unknowing victims on their smartphones, social media, online shopping,video game consoles, smart TVs, Wi-Fi hotspots and other sources.

Although fraudsters can trade in stolen details online, that doesn’t mean that the digital world is their only source of personal data. Your identity could also be stolen in more traditional ways, even if you’re not online. Some ways include:

  • Phone call phishing
    Phishing phone scams are when fraudsters call you pretending to be a reputable company or organisation in order to get you to divulge your personal data to them.
  • Dumpster diving
    Is your rubbish secure once it leaves your house? It likely isn’t, which means that fraudsters may be able to access sensitive documents that you’ve tossed out.
  • Shoulder surfing
    An identity thief could be looking over your shoulder when you’re keying in passcodes at a cashpoint or on your phone.
  • Pickpocketing
    A pickpocket could steal sensitive information like your driver’s licence from your pocket or purse. Or, if they’ve been shoulder surfing, they could steal your phone or debit or credit card.
  • Burglary
    A thief could break into your home or car and steal sensitive information that you’ve locked up.

How to protect yourself against identity theft offline

You may have the latest safety software installed on your online devices, but it’s also important to secure your personal information offline. Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Secure all personal information. This may involve locking it up at home or, if you have to bring personal data out of the house, keeping an eye on it.
  • Shred sensitive data that you don’t need anymore, so that it can’t be read.
  • Be cautious when receiving phone calls from companies, even the ones whose names you recognise. It could be from a fraudster pretending to be someone else. If in doubt, call them back using a telephone number from a trusted source, like the company’s official website.
  • Report any lost or stolen debit or credit cards and other sensitive documents to the police, as well as to the issuer (for example, your credit card provider).
  • Monitor your credit report for any signs of suspicious activity. This can include anything that you don’t recognise, like new credit agreements opened in your name that you’re not aware of.

Being cautious both online and offline can help you to protect your identity being stolen. Your Equifax Credit Report & Score – which is free for the first 30 days then £7.95 monthly – lets you monitor your Equifax Credit Report. It also includes WebDefend, which alerts you if your personal information is found on websites frequented by fraudsters.

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