Identity fraud, many times, is unavoidable. As fraudsters’ techniques get more complex, safeguarding your personal information may get more difficult. That doesn’t mean that it is impossible, though, and taking some simple steps to protect your financial well-being is worth the effort.
Here is advice from some of the most knowledgeable lawyers at Irwin Mitchell.
Watch out for the post. This first step is key. Your post is a good gateway to your personal details, and identity fraudsters have several different ways from stealing it from you. They may go directly to your post-box or try to re-route your post so that you don’t even notice that it’s been stolen. Be mindful of when your credit card statements and bills usually show up so that you can contact the Royal Mail if you suspect something fishy. Also, it’s not a bad idea to ask neighbours to keep an eye on your post-box in exchange for you doing the same for them.
Shred documents before discarding them. This is a basic rule of preventing identity theft, but it bears repeating nonetheless. Shred everything — bank statements, personal letters, even health information. Identity fraudsters don’t mind digging through the trash if it means a big pay day for them, so be mindful of what kinds of information you are discarding.
Verify a company’s identity before giving them yours. You should set up your own account preferences for how your bank and other creditors may contact you. If you receive a phone call or an email from a company or a person that you are not familiar with, don’t give out any of your personal details. This is an easy way for “phishers” to get their hands on information that they can use to steal your identity and destroy your credit.
Check your credit score regularly. Even if you’re confident that you have a good credit score, you should still be checking your credit reports consistently. This can help you make sure that there are no accounts in your name that you’re not aware of. Getting a credit report is easy to do; simply contact one of the several ratings agencies in the UK.
Don’t give into social media norms. In the age of Facebook and Twitter, it can be tempting to share too much personal information. If you post your full name and birth date, it could be an invitation for someone to dig into your personal information and steal your identity. Also, another useful tip is not to publicise when you aren’t going to be at home; this is a cue for ID thieves to go fishing through your mail, or even worse, break into your home to look for more personal information.
If you suspect that you have been a target of identity fraud, you may wish to contact your credit card companies to freeze the affected accounts. You should also consult a professional crime and fraud lawyers to guide you through the process of securing your identity.
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