Help protect yourself from identity theft

With cases of identity theft on the rise in the UK, read our six tips to help keep your personal information safe

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According to fraud prevention service, Cifas, identity fraud increased by almost a quarter (23%) in 2022 compared to 2021. With identity theft on the rise in the UK, this article will equip you with six tips to help keep your personal information safe and advice on what to do if you think you’ve experienced this type of fraud.

Fraudsters can use your personal information for all sorts of things from seizing your existing bank account to taking out a loan in your name. So, with over 270,000 cases reported in the UK in 2022, it’s worth taking steps to help keep your identity, and your money, safer…

Tips to help protect you from identity theft

1.    Review your financial statements regularly

Regularly check for any unauthorised transactions on your accounts. This is good practice because you can ensure that all payments and the amounts charged are correct. If anything looks suspicious, notify your bank to discuss your concerns. If it turns out that a transaction was legitimate (I did buy that takeaway after all!) there’s no harm in having double-checked a transaction. If you find evidence of fraud, you can usually freeze your account to stop any additional charges.  

2.    Monitor your credit reports

Identity fraud can also impact your credit score if fraudulent credit agreements are taken out using your stolen identity. Check whether any new credit accounts have been opened or applied for in your name by reviewing your credit report. You can get a copy of the report through a Credit Reference Agency. The sooner you identify suspicious new lines of credit, the sooner you can stop further fraud that could impact your credit score.

Learn more about what affects your credit score

3.   Going on holiday? Take extra care

Sometimes travel and hotel companies can ask you to share important documents, like passports, when booking online or when you arrive at a destination. Be careful who you share these with - check that they're a legitimate organisation and don’t be afraid to ask them to explain why a copy is necessary if you’re unsure.

For more information on how to stay safe online, read our tips.

4.    Collect your letters each day

It’s easy to forget, especially as so many of our transactions are online, but we still get financial statements and other documents with account numbers and sensitive information through the letterbox. If you live in a building with a shared area for your letters, take extra note as you don’t want others to get access to personal data. If you’re going away, consider asking the post office to hold your mail until you return. When you’re ready to dispose of an important document, make sure to shred it so that your information doesn’t get into the wrong hands.

5.   Be careful not to overshare personal information on social media

Social media accounts could offer huge amounts of personal information to criminals. To help keep this information safe, keep your settings switched to private, review your connections regularly, and don’t overshare details that could be useful for identity theft fraudsters (address, bank details etc.).

6.   Make sure your National Insurance number stays secure

This is a unique number personal to you which means it can be a very useful piece of data for identity theft fraudsters. Keep your number in a safe place and be very careful about sharing it with others.

What to do you if you think you’ve experienced identity theft

If you’re suspicious of activity in your account and are concerned that you have been a victim of identity theft, get in contact with the bank or organisation and let them know what’s happened. It’s also a good idea to change your passwords and report identity theft to Action Fraud for further investigation.

Feeling safer already?

For more information on what you can do to protect yourself from fraud, visit our security centre.

Other helpful links

This article has been prepared with care; however it is only intended to highlight issues and it is not intended to be comprehensive.

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