Identity theft: how to stand up to scamming
Identity theft is on the rise, particularly when you’re online. Protect yourself with the following advice and stop scammers from catching you out.
Nowadays, we are encouraged to deal with everything online, from bills to holidays. While this is far more efficient and makes our finances easier to handle, it also opens us up to more identity fraud risks than ever.
According to fraud prevention company Cifas, the number of identity theft victims in the UK rose to nearly 173,000 in 2016, with 88% of the frauds committed online*.
While the stats around identity theft can be scary, the good news is that you can protect yourself by being aware of the risks and taking the right precautions:
- Don’t get caught
A common starting place for identity fraud is a phishing attempt. These are electronic messages, usually emails, texts or calls that try to extract personal or financial details from you. These messages will sound genuine and will encourage you to click links or reveal details that could compromise your security.
What to do:
- Look out for subject lines and email addresses that appear suspicious, such as those that pressure you to take immediate action.
- If you’re in any doubt, contact the organisation in question to check the validity of an email and hover over any links to see where they will really take you.
- Never reveal passwords or pin numbers over the phone or by email – your bank will never ask you to do this.
- Call your bank on a secure line if you have received a suspicious call by waiting a while or using a different phone, as scammers may be able to hack your line.
- Keep an eye out
You can nip any fraudulent activity in the bud by keeping a close eye on your bank statements and purchasing records to look out for any unexpected transactions, bills or receipts for things you didn’t purchase, or anomalies on your credit check.
What to do:
- Make sure that you dispose of any personal information carefully. Shred personal documents before throwing them out, empty communal post boxes regularly and set up a Royal Mail redirect for your post if you move home.
- Remember to use secure passwords with numbers, characters and upper and lower case letters.
- Don’t repeat the same password for numerous online accounts.
- Don’t allow shopping sites to save your card details, as it is possible for hackers to access these through your browser.
- Keep your cards close online
You may be surprised how little information fraudsters need to steal your identity. With social media playing a big part in our lives, it can be all too easy for someone to find out your name, where you’re from, your date of birth and even your likes and dislikes.
What to do:
- Make sure you’re keeping your social media profiles private.
- Check your security settings and monitor who can see your information on sites such as Facebook.
- Try to reveal as little personal information as possible online – turn off your mobile phone GPS, avoid posting passport style photos and be wary of ‘liking’ pages that could reveal more about you.
For more information on identity fraud and how to prevent it, visit getsafeonline.org
. If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, report it online at actionfraud.police.uk
or call 0300 123 2040.
Another great way to protect yourself against identity fraud is by adding legal and identity theft protection to your home insurance policy. UIA Mutual Insurance provides this option, as mentioned in our new video
. You can also find out more about legal here
UIA is the trusted home insurance provider for Usdaw. For a limited time, if you buy a new combined buildings and contents policy with UIA online, you’ll receive a £50 Love2shop reward, which you can spend online at a wide choice of retailers and restaurants. Find out more here