Identity theft is a major issue in the UK and chances are that you will know someone who has been a victim of this crime or you may have been the victim yourself. Below we have outlined eight measures you can take to protect yourself from this terrible crime.
- If you are still in the habit of writing cheques then use a gel pen where possible. The ink contained in gel pens is manufactured using chemicals that cannot be easily erased with special solvents. Criminals engaged in identity theft use solvents to erase details on cheques so they can enter their own information.
- Identity thieves are increasingly targeting children’s identities as they have a very clean credit history and tend not to monitor their credit reports. Ensure that whatever measures you take to protect your own identity are also carried out on your children’s identity.
- Opt out of the phone book and make yourself X-directory, your address and phone number are important bits of information to any identity thief so make it as hard as possible for them to get hold of it.
- Purchase a cross cut shredder to destroy your personal and potentially sensitive information. Items such as receipts, unwanted bank or credit card company correspondence and anything with your name, address or telephone number on should be shredded. Even items such as birthday cards could provide information on your date of birth and are worth passing through the shredder rather than simply throwing away.
- Think before you throw anything in the bin or the recycling, it’s not a nice thought but identity thieves are more than happy to rummage through your waste in the hope of finding useful personal information. If you have any doubt whether to throw something away of shred it always opt for the shredding option.
- We’ve all heard this many times before but using your hand to cover your pin number at cash machines helps prevent people looking over your shoulder and finding out this sensitive information.
- If you request a receipt from a cash machine then don’t simply throw it in the nearest bin or on the floor. This also contains information that can be useful and needs to be destroyed.
- When you eat out in restaurants or make purchases in shops using your credit card don’t allow your card to be taken out of your sight. It’s a relatively simple task to make a copy of the information stored on your card and you would be none the wiser as no damage is caused that may alert you to an issue.
Protecting yourself against identity theft is largely about common sense and treating your personal information as an important commodity that needs to be properly destroyed and disposed of. One of the most important points from the above list is to shred your personal information instead of simply throwing it away. If you can get into this habit you will be well on the way to being better protected.
Author: Carl Barton