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Identity Fraud

Preventing the theft of your identity in the first place is the best way to avoid being a victim of identity fraud. Government organisations have a wealth of advice on this, and it’s recommended you look at the links below.

Primarily, you want to keep your documents as secure as possible. At all times, passports, financial records, birth certificates and others papers containing sensitive personal details should be carefully guarded. Always check your financial statements carefully against your receipts. If you see any unfamiliar transactions, report them immediately to your bank or card issuer. Once you’ve finished with your receipts, dispose of them carefully and securely.

Don’t disclose your details to cold callers, online or offline. You should only give information to organisations when you can be sure they are who they say they are. You should never provide your PIN number or full password to anyone you’ve not initiated contact with. Any email asking for financial details or passwords should be treated with suspicion.

Try and use different passwords or PIN numbers for each purpose. That way, if one does fall into the wrong hands, it can’t be used for anything else. Never share your bank PIN or password with anyone.

If you move home, ensure all your mail is redirected. Criminals can get hold of post left at unattended premises and use the recovered details inside to steal your identity.

How to spot if you’re a victim of identity fraud

These are some of the warning signs:

  • You receive bills, invoices or other material addressed to you for goods you’ve never ordered and never received.
     
  • You’re sent letters from solicitors or debt collectors for money you’re unaware you owed.
     
  • On your statements, transactions appear that you didn’t make, or you receive letters about new accounts you didn’t open.
     
  • Important documents, statements or other mail are sent to you in the post but never arrive.

If you’re suspicious, conduct a credit check on yourself through a credit reference agency like Experian or Equifax. If there are searches on the report, or new accounts in your details that don’t relate to applications made by you, fraudsters may have been at work.

What to do if you’re a victim of identity fraud

  • If you lose any cards or bank documents, or there are any transactions on your account you don’t recognise, contact the issuer or bank immediately. They’ll provide advice on what to do next. Follow up any phone calls you make with written notification.
     
  • Report the fraud as a crime to your local police who will advise you on the way forward. For more info, visit the website www.met.police.uk/fraudalert
     
  • Keep copies of all documents and letters you send or receive regarding the identity fraud and send letters by registered post. 
     
  • Important documents, statements or other mail are sent to you in the post but never arrive.

For further information on identity fraud, how to prevent it and advice on actions to take if you become a victim, follow the links below:

CIFAS is the UK’s fraud prevention service created by major consumer-credit lenders. It has a wealth of information on financial fraud and identity theft, including internet fraud. It can be found at www.identityfraud.org.uk

The Home Office Identity Fraud Steering Committee has a website dedicated to helping protect and advise you. It’s at www.identitytheft.org.uk

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