Identity Theft Prevention Tips
Falling victim to identity theft can be extremely upsetting and burdensome to fix when it happens. Identity thieves can be highly skilled at selecting their targets and exploiting your personal information. It’s important to make sure your personal details are as well protected as possible. Luma offers the following tips to help.
Protect Your Post
Stealing your post is a common way that thieves access your personal information. Take extra precautions if you live in a shared property where other people may be able to access your post.
Because of this risk, it’s increasingly common for UK banks to arrange for you to collect valuable items such as new debit cards or cheque books from a local branch. Your credit card issuer also takes precautions such as requiring you to activate your card online or over the phone and sending your PIN separately. If you’re going away on holiday, remember to cancel mail when you’re gone or have someone you trust collect your mail for you. If you move house, tell your bank, card issuer and all other organisations that you deal with straight away. You should ask the Royal Mail to redirect any mail from your old address to your new one for at least a year.
Keep Personal Information Out of the Rubbish
Many of the items you throw away or recycle, including credit card offers, utility bills, ATM receipts, credit statements/receipts and bank statements contain personal information. To reduce the likelihood of identity thieves using this information to your detriment, buy a shredder and make a habit of using it.
It is also very important that when you throw away old credit cards you destroy them first, either with a strong shredder or by cutting them up into very small pieces with scissors. Just because a card’s expired doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be useful to a thief.
Be Wary on the Phone
You should never give your personal information if you did not make the call or ask to be called by a given organisation. There are many phone scams where someone rings you to tell you about a high-value prize (such as a holiday) that you have won. These calls often apply pressure, telling you that if you don’t ‘act now’ you will lose the prize. In most cases the ‘price’ for this prize is your personal information and you will never receive a prize.
Keep Your Computer Safe
You should always use virus protection; this can stop programmes that harvest your information without your realising. Don’t ever respond to unsolicited phishing requests for personal information. Make sure your computer has a password, change it regularly and don’t let anyone else know it.
Take Care of Your Wallet
Make a photocopy of everything in your wallet, including credit card numbers and the contact details of the providers. Keep this information in a very safe place, so that if your wallet is lost or stolen, all the information you’ll need to cancel your credit cards will be on hand. Ensure that you sign your cards right away. Some also write “photo ID required” in place of a signature on cards, as this makes it more difficult for a thief to make purchases in person.
Report Suspicious Activity
You should keep an eye on your credit report, and check it at least once a year. If you see any suspicious activity, such as transactions you don’t recognise, contact your creditors straight away. If at any time you suspect that an attempt has been made to steal your identity, contact the authorities. File a police report and contact a credit reference agency, like Equifax or Experian, immediately.