Identity theft affects over 100,000 people every year. By obtaining a few of your personal details it is possible for a criminal to open up bank accounts, obtain credit cards, claim benefits and also apply for official documents such as a driving licence, all of which will be traceable to you.
Common methods of obtaining your personal details include stealing discarded documents from your rubbish. You may also be contacted via telephone or e-mail by someone pretending to be from a legitimate organisation, requesting personal information from you.
You can protect yourself by:
- shredding all personal information before discarding in your rubbish; this includes anything referring to bank accounts, national insurance details, salary information, and old bank cards
- deleting any suspicious e-mails from organisations requesting personal information from you - banks for example will not ask for such information by e-mail
- being extra vigilant when giving out personal information - it's easy for criminals to falsify e-mail addresses, headed paper, and other methods of communication
- ensuring if you move house that you alert your bank and other organisations in advance so that your mail can be redirected
- notifying the Royal Mail Customer Enquiry Line on 08457 740 740 if you suspect your mail is going missing.
- Always report the theft or loss of a passport, driving licence or bank statements.
How to identify when you are a victim
Possible signs that you have become a victim of identity theft include:
- disappearance of mail - this may include bank statements and credit card bills which you regularly receive that suddenly stop arriving
- tampered with or missing rubbish bags
- receiving bills for things that you have no knowledge of purchasing or signing up for
- irregular direct debits or payments appearing on your bank statements.
For more information please visit the Information Commissioner website.
Bank Safe Online sets out simple steps you can take to help keep safe online - visit the Bank Safe Online.