Protect yourself from identity theft
Identity theft is a growing concern in today’s digital world, and taking proactive measures to protect your personal information is crucial.
Below are steps you can take to detect and protect yourself from identity theft in the United Kingdom. By staying vigilant and acting promptly, you can minimise the potential damage caused by stolen personal details.
Three possible signs of identity theft
1. Unfamiliar transactions
Regularly review your bank statements, credit card bills, and other financial records to identify any unauthorised charges or suspicious activities.
2. Missing mail
If you suddenly stop receiving important mail, such as bank statements or bills, it could indicate that your address has been changed without your knowledge.
3. Unexpected credit denials
If you are denied credit despite having a good credit score and history, it may show that someone else has been using your identity for fraudulent purposes. Inaccurate personal information: Monitor your credit reports and keep an eye out for any unfamiliar addresses, accounts, or enquiries listed.
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft
Contact your bank and credit card issuers
If you suspect you’ve been a victim of identity theft, inform your financial institutions immediately. They can freeze your accounts, change your login credentials, and provide further guidance.
Visit the Citizens Advice website for more information about banking security and fraud.
Report to Action Fraud
Action Fraud is the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre. Send a report by filing one online or give them a call through their contact number to report the identity theft incident.
Notify credit agencies
Get in touch with credit agencies like Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion to place a fraud alert on your credit profile. This second layer of protection can help prevent further unauthorised activity.
Update your account passwords
Change your passwords for all accounts, including social media, email, and financial platforms, resetting them with strong combinations This should ideally be a mix of upper and lower case, as well as numbers with at least two non-alphanumeric character.
Read more about password safety and the ‘three random word’ approach on the National Cyber Security Centre website.
Inform the relevant authorities
Report the identity theft to the police by contacting your local police station or through the contact number 101. They will give you a crime reference number for future reference.
Further bodies you can notify, such as the Financial Ombudsman Service are listed on the Information Commissioner’s Office website.
Measures to protect yourself in future
Regularly monitor your credit reports
Obtain copies of your credit reports from all credit reference agencies and review them for any signs of suspicious activity. Consider subscribing to credit monitoring services that provide real-time alerts, such as Experian.
Use two-factor authentication
Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible, as it adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts by requiring a second verification step.
Read our earlier blog post ‘the importance of multi-factor authentication’ for more information.
Shred personal documents
Safely dispose of documents containing sensitive information by using a cross-cut shredder. This prevents dumpster divers from gaining access to your personal details.
If you aren’t sure what documents to shred, read this online guide.
Be cautious with personal information
Avoid sharing sensitive information, such as your national insurance number, unless necessary. Verify that the request is legitimate before handing over any personal information.
Protect your devices
Regularly update your operating systems, antivirus software, and firewalls to minimise the risk of malware or hacking attempts. Ensure that you remain cautious of phishing emails and avoid clicking on suspicious links.