Staying one step ahead of the fraudsters! Our identity is one of our most valuable assets and unfortunately for us, fraudsters are well aware of this.
Identity fraud is where someone uses our personal data to open an account, buy goods, or take out a loan in our name. Quite often, victims don't even realise they have been targeted until they receive an invoice for something they didn't buy, or they have problems with their credit rating, or a letter from the debt collector arrives through the post for a debt they have no knowledge about.
According to figures released by the UK's leading Fraud Prevention Service, CIFAS, the number of victims of identity theft rose by 57% in 2016 due to the increase in fraudsters obtaining a person's personal details from their social media sites.
There has also been a 52% rise in young identity fraud victims over the last year, with 23,959 young people (under 30) being victims of identity fraud.
So how can we stay one step ahead of the fraudsters and ensure our identity stays well intact?
Top tips to protect yourself from identity fraud:
- Have your mail redirected if you move house - In addition, make sure your mailbox is secure.
- Don't use obvious pin numbers - For example, stay away from codes such as, 0000, 1234, 4321, or your date of birth.
- Use strong and complex passwords - Choose three random words (e.g. dogmoonpurple) and break them up with numbers and characters (e.g. D0gm00npu4p!e); or better still, create a completely random string of numbers of characters and avoid using the same password across all sites.
- Check your privacy settings on social media - Social media is brimming with personal information and the percentage of fraudsters now stealing a person's identity through this medium is rapidly increasing so be careful what you share.
- Use anti-virus software on laptops and personal devices - Be sure to keep it up-to-date by downloading updates as soon as they're available. Updates often contain security patches.
- Take care using public WiFi - They can be mimicked or hacked. If you have to use one, don't access sensitive apps, such as your online banking, from unsecure hotspots.
- If you're at particular risk, think about taking out Protective Registration (PR) - If you've recently lost sensitive documents or a company has lost your data or had it stolen, Protective Registration is an additional precaution to prevent fraud.
- Report it - If you're a victim of identity fraud, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
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