Identity theft is prevalent everywhere and in ways that many people do not realise. You have to be vigilant about protecting the keys to your identity and in many cases it is far better to be safe than sorry. Your identity can be used by criminals to open bank accounts, apply for credit cards and obtain state benefits in your name. You can lose money and have a damaged credit rating.
Physically remove and smash hard drives
Selling your old computer? Remove the hard drive and smash it up before you sell your pc on. Unscrupulous buyers can easily recover deleted files from reformatted hard drives, including image, music files and other documents.
Careful with that PIN
Credit card fraud is often the major problem. In London most retailers use a chip-and-pin technology which offers more identity protection than the usual magnetic swipe procedure more common in other countries. Never write your PIN down or keep it in your wallet.
Keep an eye out for post
Ensure that post from you bank, utility provider and landlady or mortgage provider arrive on a regular basis. If they have been misdirected there is a high chance that someone has your bank details and address, details that you want to keep to yourself to protect your identity.
Keep it private
Don’t post private details like your birthdate, mother’s maiden name or telephone number on public forums or networking sites like Facebook or MySpace. Don’t accept networking requests from people you don’t know in real life and keep your profile settings to the highest security setting.
Close defunct credit accounts
According to uswitch.com, 16 million borrowers have 2.3 credit cards that they no longer use. During the current recession many consumers decided to remove temptation by cutting up their credit cards. However dormant credit accounts represent an opportunity for criminals to assume your identity, often maxing out your limits.
Redirect mail after moving
The chaos of moving can affect where your post is delivered. The risk of undelivered mail is that fraudsters may steal your bank statements, utility bills, and personal letters and from them, glean enough information to steal your identity. To avoid this, use the official redirection service provided by Royal Mail, which sends all post to your new address for a specified period of time.
Use strong passwords
It can be tempting to just use one password for all your online accounts, whether that be for gmail, your online banking account or your Kodak gallery account. If someone hacks into your email account and tries this password on your online banking facility, you’ve just let the cat out of the bag. Don’t make it easy for the identity thieves. Use a combination of letters and numerals and mix up your passwords so that they are not all the same. Avoid using your mother’s maiden name or your date of birth as passwords as these details can be easily obtained.