Identity fraud, or ‘ID theft’, involves the use of a person’s stolen details in order to commit crime. Many victims never establish exactly how their details were obtained, and clearing matters up after the fraudulent use of their information can be costly and stressful.
Protect your address
If you start receiving post for someone you don’t know, try to find out why.
Lenders use the electoral roll to check who is registered as living at a particular address. When registering to vote, tick the box to opt out of the ‘Edited’ register. This will prevent any unsolicited marketing mail, or ‘junk mail’. This does not affect credit checks.
Sign up to the Mail Preference Service to prevent marketing letters.
Protect mail left in communal areas of residential properties and re-direct your mail when moving home.
Protect your bank accounts
Be extremely wary of unsolicited phone calls, letters or emails from your bank, or other financial institution, asking you to confirm your personal details, passwords and security numbers.
Regularly check your bank accounts and chase up any statements and that are not delivered when expected.
Dispose of anything containing your personal or banking details by using a cross cut shredder or tearing up into small pieces.
Always sign up to American Express SafeKey, MasterCard SecureCode or Verifed by Visa when you receive your bank cards, even if you do not intend to use your cards online. This helps to protect you if your card or details are lost or stolen.
If you think someone is misusing your bank account details, report it to your bank immediately.
Protect your phone
Never reply to unsolicited text messages, even to try and get them stopped. Simply delete them.
Sign up to the Telephone Preference Service to prevent marketing phone calls.
If you’re using a smartphone, install anti-virus software on it.
Protect your computer
Keep your computer security programs, such as antivirus and firewall, up to date. Also, make sure your web browser and operating system are the latest version. If you’re not sure how to do this, contact a computer specialist or ask someone you trust.
Be wary of clicking on links in unsolicited emails. They may contain viruses or other programs that can harm your computer.
If you’re making a financial transaction online, make sure you’re on a secure website. You can do this by looking at the the website’s address.
Normally a website will start with ‘http’ but a secure site should start with ‘https’. For example, http://www.mybank.com is the address of Mybank, but if you want to go to the transactions page you have to log in. At this point the address bar will change to something like https://mybank/login.com. The address bar may also change colour and a padlock icon will appear in either the bottom left or bottom right corner of your browser bar.
If you receive an email claiming to be from your bank, asking that you contact them, consider whether or not it is genuine. If you are unsure, do not click on any links in the email. Open another window in your browser and visit your bank’s website using your normal method.
Check the online banking security options your bank provides. Some offer free antivirus and browser security software.
Protect your property
Property fraud is when a person pretends to be you, using your stolen identity details, in order to mortgage or even sell your land, house or business premises. Properties most at risk are those that are rented out, empty or mortgage-free.
Thankfully, this kind of fraud is rare, but if you’re a property owner it’s worth taking the simple steps below to make sure it doesn’t happen to you. Undoing the damage after you’ve been a victim can be time-consuming, costly and stressful.
- Register your land or property with Land Registry
- Keep your contact details up to date
- Sign up to receive alerts if someone applies to change the register of your property
- Put a restriction on your property so no activity will be allowed until a solicitor or conveyancer confirms it has been made by you
You can do all of the above, as well as find out how to report property fraud, on the UK Government’s website.