Many of us worry about the risk of personal details falling into the hands of fraudsters keen to part us with our money.
After all, each year millions of us are victims of identity theft. So what can you do to safeguard against this? Here are seven top tips:
1. Shred sensitive documents before throwing them away
This includes bills, bank statements and anything with account details included. Ideally, buy a shredding machine to do this efficiently. Likewise, cut up expired credit or debit cards.
2. Redirect your post when you move
If you move home, ask Royal Mail to redirect your post for at least six months so important documents don’t fall into the wrong hands. This gives you time to change your address with any financial or utility providers you may have forgotten about.
3. Be wary of suspicious emails
You know the ones. They don’t come from email addresses you recognise, and often claim to be from your bank or a government department.
Sometimes, poor spelling and grammar can be a giveaway. Whatever you do, don’t click on any links or attachments in an email unless you’re sure they’re valid.
4. Protect your account numbers and passwords
Don’t carry these around with you in your wallet or bag. This may seem obvious, but it’s surprisingly easy to scribble a number on a piece of paper, say, and forget about it.
Beware of phone calls claiming to be from your bank asking for this information, as this is a tactic often used by fraudsters. Your bank will never ask for your PIN or password.
5. Make your password hard to guess
When coming up with any personal passwords, try not to make them obvious. So avoid using a pet’s name or mother’s maiden name, for example. Use a random mix of numbers, punctuation and letters for the strongest passwords. The longer they are, the better.
6. Check your credit report regularly
Use a credit reference agency, such as Experian, to see if anyone has applied for credit in your name.
Spotting unusual activity on your credit report can be an early indicator of identity theft, meaning you can take steps to resolve the fraud before you’re financially impacted.
If you suspect or fear you have had your identity stolen or been a victim of fraud, act fast and contact your bank, the service provider in question, and your credit reference agency as well as Action Fraud or call 0300 123 2040.
7. Monitor your accounts
Regularly scanning your bank and credit card statements is sensible.
Check for any rogue entries, no matter how small, and notify your bank if you’re concerned.
This is essential if you want to spot fraud early, as sometimes thieves make regular, small transactions so that people take time to pick up on money being taken.
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