Tips to Keep Your Identity Safe from Thieves
Criminals commit identify theft by obtaining key pieces of personal information, such as social security numbers, driver license numbers or banking details in order to pose as someone else. The information can be used to obtain credit or to purchase goods and services using the victims’ name. Identity theft can also provide a thief with false credentials to take over the victims bank account or to make applications in their name for new bank accounts, cards or loans.
One of the biggest problems with identity theft is that the crimes committed by the fraudster who has stolen the ID, are often attributed to the victim. If your identity is stolen, you may have difficulty applying for loans, credit cards or a mortgage until the matter is sorted out. You should carefully guard any personal information that might allow a thief to impersonate you.
- Keep important personal documents, plastic cards and cheque books in a safe and secure place. Keep cheque books and cards separately. We consider valuable documents to include your passport, birth certificate, driving licence, plastic cards, card receipts, financial statements and even utility bills. Without access to this information a criminal will find it very difficult to pretend to be you.
- Dispose of financial statements, card receipts and other personal documents with care. Rip up or preferably shred any such documents before putting them in a bin.
- Always check bank statements and check receipts against your statements carefully. If you find an unfamiliar transaction, contact your card issuer or bank immediately.
- Guard your cards. Don’t let them out of your sight when shopping. Report lost and stolen cards or suspected fraudulent use of your card account to your bank or building society immediately. Keep a note of your card issuer’s telephone number so that you can report lost or stolen cards as soon as you notice they are missing.
- Share personal information unless you are entirely confident that you know with whom you are dealing. Be particularly cautious if you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from your bank or from the police. When confirming security information, your bank would only ever ask for specific characters within your password and not your whole password. Ask callers for their phone number, check it and call them back. Also, be wary when responding to e-mails requesting information about you. If in doubt, ask for proof of identity or undertake your own checks.
- Disclose your card PIN (Personal Identification Number) to anyone.
- Be aware that your post is valuable information in the wrong hands. If you fail to receive a bank statement, card statement, utility bill or other financial information, be sure to contact the relevant bank or service to confirm that one was sent out.
- How easy would it be for somebody to intercept your post? If you receive a credit card application and you don’t use it, rip it up before disposing of it.
- If you move home, make sure you contact your bank and all other organisations and provide them with details of your new address (the Post Office redirects post on request).
- Aim to only use your password and credit card number while using a secure connection on a website only and not via an email, which can be intercepted.