Research undertaken by Infosecurity Europe, has uncovered that 42 per cent of a pool of 1000 surveyed commuters in London said that criminals had stolen their personal data and used it to clear out their accounts or borrow money in their names.
Financial Identity Theft is one of the fastest growing crimes all over the world with millions of people falling victim every year and this number is only set to increase in the future.
Whilst many of us will feel we’re taking the simple precautions needed to protect ourselves, according to Experian’s Victims of Fraud support service, it still takes an average of 416 days before people realise they’ve been a victim of identity theft.
Common sources of ID scams is websites or email. Next are people reporting being duped in shops, restaurants, hotels and on the telephone and finally reports of morning post being intercepted.
So how do you know if you are a victim of identity fraud? According to Experian’s Victim of Fraud support service, the most common way to confirm is by checking your credit report. This shows your credit accounts and repayment history, so it’s easy to spot unfamiliar accounts or unexplained debts. Other indications can be post going missing, receiving notification of a debt you don’t recognise or getting a welcome letter for a credit account you never applied for. But whilst these are useful indicators, it is often too late once you spot them.
We’ve put together some useful hints and tips on protecting yourself:
- Always shred statements and other sensitive documents before binning them
- Always think about the risks when working online and be aware of unsolicited emails with links to convincing fraudulent websites
- Use strong passwords, mixing several words, letters and numbers
- Choose safe ways to pay online and look at using reputable companies such as PayPal
- Never carry documents or cards unnecessarily
- Do not keep passwords and pins with your cards
- Tell your bank, card issuers and all other organisations if you move house and consider redirecting your mail for at least a year
- Check statements as soon as they arrive. If any unfamiliar transactions are listed, contact the company concerned immediately
- Do not let anyone take your credit card or debit card out of your sight in shops, restaurants or hotels
- If you have been a victim of identity fraud and you have behaved responsibly then you shouldn’t have any problems getting back the money stolen. The terms and conditions of your account may mean that you have to pay a small excess.