Identity fraud is an action that often follows identity theft. Theft involves stealing a person's identity or personal information. Whereas identity fraud goes a step further when the thief uses data to open an account, buy goods, or take out a loan.
Victims often don't even realise they've been targeted until they receive an invoice for something they didn't buy, have problems with their credit rating, or a letter from the debt collector arrives for a debt they don't know about.
How to protect your staff from identity fraud
- Redirect your email
- Don't use obvious pin numbers
- Use strong passwords
- Check your privacy settings
- Use anti-virus software
- Be careful when using public WiFi
- Consider Protective Registration (PR)
- Don't throw away anything with your details on it
- Be cautious with giving details over the phone
- Report fraud
According to figures released by the UK's leading Fraud Prevention Service, CIFAS, the number of identity fraud victims in the first nine months of 2022 rose by 34%, accounting for 68% of all cases reported to the National Fraud Database (NFD).
It was found that 86% of these cases were through online channels. Every age group has seen an increase in identity fraud, and there's been a 38% increase in the number of companies recorded as victims of impersonation.
So how can you stay a step ahead of the fraudsters?
Top protection tips against identity fraud
1. Redirect your mail
The post contains valuable information for fraudsters. If you move house, it is best they redirect your mail. A redirection will prevent your details from falling into the wrong hands.
In addition to this, make sure your mailbox is secure. If you live in a communal area, ensure that you have a lockable private post-box.
2. Don't use obvious pin numbers
Using pin numbers that are easy to guess makes hacking a simple task. Stay away from codes such as 0000, 1234, 4321, or your date of birth - these are the number combinations that fraudsters will try to use first.
3. Use strong & 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. Also, remember to avoid using the same password across all sites.
4. Check 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. It is important to be careful with what you make public.
You can change your birth date, workplace, and current location to private or only visible to friends in your social media settings. In doing this, you avoid giving strangers easy access to your personal information.
5. Use anti-virus software
It's likely that you, like most other computer users, have documents on your local hard drive that contain personal information. Fraudsters often insert viruses in legitimate applications which you might download.
As a result, installing anti-virus and anti-malware software is important and keeping this software up-to-date. Download any updates as soon as they're available. Updates often contain security patches that help protect you against identity theft and fraud.
6. Take care using public WiFi
Public WiFi networks often lack strong security protections. This means that they can be mimicked or hacked. Don't allow your WiFi to auto-connect to public networks, and turn your WiFi and Bluetooth off if you are not using them. If you have to use a public WiFi network, don't access sensitive apps from an unsecured hotspot, such as your online banking.
7. Consider 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.
Even if you only suspect that a fraudster has stolen your personal information, Protective Registration will ensure that any organisation using CIFAS will be alerted that a fraudster might use your details. This will prompt the organisation to carry out additional checks to ensure you are not a victim of identity fraud.
8. Don't throw away anything with your details on it
Before binning any bills, bank statements or other documentation with your details, tear up or shred the documents. Don't leave any documents containing your name, address or financial details in a visible place to others. Take care to guard your personal information as best as possible.
9. Be cautious with giving details over the phone
If you receive a phone call from your bank asking for your security details, never give them your password or login details. Your bank would not ask for these details over the phone. If you are concerned about the phone call source, wait for a few minutes after the call and contact your bank from another phone to get some clarity.
10. Report fraud
If you're a victim of identity fraud, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Reporting fraud can stop fraudsters in their tracks by allowing authorities to start working on your case.
Want to learn more about Fraud?
We also have 100+ free compliance training aids, including assessments, best practice guides, checklists, desk aids, eBooks, games, posters, training presentations and even e-learning modules!
Finally, the SkillcastConnect community provides a unique opportunity to network with other compliance professionals in a vendor-free environment, priority access to our free online learning portal and other exclusive benefits.