What is Identity Theft?

    There are two sides to the problem:
  • A criminal steals an individuals actual identity. This could be through stealing a cheque book, a credit card, a bank statement, utility bills, or personal mail. In addition, details could be obtained through open source checks such as internet, births & deaths registers etc. Posession of such details make it possible for the criminal to open a bank account, get a credit card, obtain a secured loan, get a passport , get a driving licence and get state benefits all in the victims name. Alternatively the criminal could simply take over the victim’s existing accounts.
  • The second part of the problem is the use of false identities to commit fraud.

What is the extent of the problem?

      It is estimated that identity theft and identity fraud cost people in the UK £1.7 billion per year.

 Methods Criminals Use 

  • calling victims pretending to be their bank, or other financial institution and asking customers to confirm their personal details, passwords and security numbers.
  • targeted phishing attacks; a criminal activity where “phishers” attempt to fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy financial instituitons on the internet.
  • malicious software such as spyware which can surreptitiously collect personal information from personal computers.
  • gathering of personal details through personal information posted on the web; such as on social networking sites.
  • stealing mail left in communal areas of residential properties or thrown out in the rubbish.
  • stealing personal data through stealing your belongings i.e. wallet, purse, burglary etc.

  How do you know if are victim to this type of fraud?

  • Are you missing your regular monthly financial statements?
    If so they could be being redirected to a fraudster.
  • Have you noticed charges to your accounts that are not yours?
    Remember to check all statements especially bank and credit card.
  • Being contacted by a debt collection agency about outstanding payments for items or services that you have not ordered. Beware of companies contacting you unexpectedly and asking for personal information.

 How To Protect Yourself!

  • Be careful with your personal information. If you receive a telephone call from a credit card company, bank or other retail company asking to confirm certain details about yourself decline them and ask to call them back preferably through a central switchboard. Never give out personal details or passwords.
  • When destroying personal correspondence such as bank and credit card statements consider a shredder or even burning them with garden refuse. If you cannot do either then tear the papers up into very small pieces and place in the refuse bin with other waste products.
  • If you move address remember to inform all of the companies that send personal information to you in the post. Always consider re-directing your post with Royal Mail. If you fail to do this people moving in might have free access to your personal details and misappropriate them.
  • Always use an anti virus programme and firewall on your computer.
  • Beware of unsolicited emails. Do not respond to emails that have apparently originated from your bank or other authority/company. Remember that a bank will not ask for your details via unsolicited emails.
  • Do not respond to emails that have apparently originated from an international sweepstake, (like the Irish Sweepstake), especially if you cannot remember entering in the first place. These are really phishing emails designed to grab personal details 
  • Do not post personal details on the internet which could collectively be used to clone your identity.
  • Instruct your bank not to accept any payments abroad unless previously authorised.

  If You Become A Victim - Take Action Quickly

  • Contact Your Creditors:  Get in touch with creditors with whom you have an account (e.g. banks, credit card companies, store cards, phone & utility companies) even if they have not been affected so that they can monitor your accounts to ensure they remain protected. Your bank, for example, is now responsible for undertaking further verification and investigation and where appropriate will report it to the police for investigation following a change in reporting procedures.
  • Contact a credit reference agency: Callcredit, Equifax or Experian provide suggested steps to resolve the situation and prevent it happening again.
  • Contact CIFAS Protective Registration: If you think you have been a victim of identity theft you should consider subscribing to the CIFAS
  • Protective Registration service: A notice will be placed on your credit file indicating that your name and address may be used to perpetrate identity fraud.







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