In this post we’ll explain what identity theft is and how it works, before exploring some signs that might suggest you’ve been a victim of identity theft. We’ll then share some ways you can help protect your identity.
At Anthony Jones, we provide tailored risk management advice along with bespoke insurance support for high net worth individuals. If you want to discuss your needs further, get in touch on 0208 290 9086 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is exactly what it sounds like: Criminals steal your identity and use it to open bank accounts, take out credit cards, apply for benefits, and other things in your name.
All a criminal needs are your name, your address, and your date of birth. With this information they can create a false version of you. But the more information they can find, the more damage they can do.
How Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft Can Affect You
If you become a victim of identity theft, losing money could be the least of your worries. In the long-term, identity theft could also make it difficult for you to acquire certain financial products, such as loans, credit cards, and mortgages. It could even lead to some legal troubles, should use your identity to engage in any illegal identity.
Common Signs You’ve Been a Victim of Identity Theft
If a criminal breaks into your home, or steals a valuable item, it won’t take long for you to realise that something’s gone wrong. Identity theft is a particularly harmful crime because it can be months, or even years, before you realise that something’s amiss.
Here are some signs that might indicate you’ve been a victim of identity theft:
- Products and services that you don’t remember purchasing appear on your bank statement or credit card statement.
- You receive bills or receipts for products or services that you didn’t purchase.
- You have a good credit rating, but you’re still refused a financial product or service, such as a credit card, a loan, or a mortgage.
- Solicitors or debt collectors contact you concerning debts that have nothing to do with you.
- Your usual letters from your bank or service providers don’t arrive.
Identity thieves also target important documents, such as passports and driving licences. So if you lose such a document and you suspect it’s been stolen, then criminals may already be in the process of creating a fake version of you.
How to Prevent Identity Theft
To prevent identity theft, you need to keep your personal information as private as possible:
- Keep any documents that contains your personal information in a safe and secure place. A safety deposit box is ideal, but a locked drawer or filing cabinet will also help. Lock away your passport and driving licence, as well as any documents you’re keeping for your records, such as bank statements, transaction receipts, and bills.
- Take care with any documents that contains your name, address, date of birth or any other personal information. Don’t just throw them in the bin. Shred them or destroy them first.
- Take care when shopping online. Before you buy anything from any site, make sure it’s secure and trustworthy. Look for a padlock symbol in your browser’s address bar and ensure the website’s address starts with “https” rather than “http”. Also make sure the site has listed contact details, and a clear privacy and returns policy.
- Get a good antivirus and web shield app to protect you from malicious sites while you browse online.
- Beware of phishing attacks. Read our guide to what you should do if you think you’ve accidentally clicked a phishing link online.
- Never post a picture of your house or your car to social media. If your registration number’s visible, for example, identity thieves may be able to obtain your address via the DVLA database.
- Your bank should alert you if they detect any irregular activity on your account. But you could also get into the habit of regularly checking your bank statements just in case any fraudulent payments or purchases show up.
- If you move house, tell all of your service providers about your change in address as soon as possible. You can also contact Royal Mail to have all of your post redirected.
What To Do If You’ve Become a Victim of Identity Theft
If you suspect you’ve become a victim of identity theft, it’s important to act as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you could be liable for any future financial losses.
Here are some steps you could take:
- If you’ve noticed any suspicious activity on your account, tell your bank, building society, or credit card company as soon as possible.
- If you’ve lost any documents, or you think they’ve been stolen, report the theft to the police and request a crime reference number.
- Also report the loss to the organisations that first issued the documents. They may be able to cancel the old document and issue you with a new one, so that the identity thief will no longer be able to act in your name.
- Ask for a copy of your credit file, so you can see if there have been any fraudulent credit applications.
You can also contact the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, CIFAS. If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, they can give you protective registration. This means that, should anyone ever use your name or address to apply for a financial service, CIFAS will carry out extra checks to make sure it’s you.
This will also apply when you apply for any financial services, so you may find certain applications take longer than they used to. But such inconvenience is a small price to pay for maintaining the integrity of your personal data.
Get Personal Protection You Can Depend On
At Anthony Jones, we provide tailored risk management advice along with bespoke insurance support for high net worth individuals.
If you want to discuss your needs further, get in touch on 0208 290 9086 or email us at email@example.com.