Identity Theft - How to Avoid Becoming a Victim



Having your possessions stolen is not a nice thing to happen - and having your identity stolen is even worse. Identity theft occurs when fraudsters get hold of your personal details, such as your name, date of birth and address, and use these details to commit crimes in your name. Using these details, people are able to take out financial products in your name, use your details to open mobile phone accounts, order products and services with your details and even apply for passports and driving licences using your information.

There is no underestimating how damaging this can be for the person who has had their identity stolen. Identity theft can seriously affect credit scores, and can be deeply distressing once it is discovered.

Luckily, there are a number of steps that can be taken to protect against identity theft, giving you peace of mind.

Paper Shredder

The first is to ensure that you dispose carefully of any documents that feature your personal information, including your name, address and any financial details. If such documents need to be disposed of, you can do so safely by using a paper shredder to make sure that your details cannot be read. A cross cut shredder is the best choice for this purpose, cutting paper into small diamond, rectangular or parallelogram shaped scraps, which are far harder to reassemble than the strips of paper cut by other shredder types.

You should also ensure that you are vigilant when answering the phone. Even if a caller claims to be from your bank or another financial services provider that you use, be careful what information you give out. Your bank will never ask for your PIN, and will never request that you give your full account number over the phone. If you are unsure as to whether a call is genuinely from your bank, hang up and give them a call on the number that you normally use.

The same care should be taken when reading emails, as fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated with the phishing emails that they send in an attempt to gain people's personal details. Do not click on any links if you do not know the sender, and double check that emails really are from who they say they are before responding with any personal information.

When it comes to bank statements, check them carefully to ensure that there are no suspicious transactions that could be a result of identity theft. If there are elements on there that you believe are not right, contact your bank immediately. Similarly, if you are expecting statements or replacement cards to arrive in the post and they do not turn up, let your financial services provider know, as they may have been intercepted en route.

Finally, be sure to check your credit rating, as this is the best way of understanding if you have already been a victim of identity theft. By being alert and sensible, you are more likely to avoid being a victim in the future.

For further information on how to protect against identity theft we suggest you visit the following websites;

Action Fraud

Experian – ID Protection advice

Author:

Carl Barton is a director of Office Allsorts who has worked in the office products industry for 15 years.

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