So many of us now use the internet for shopping, for sorting out things like tax credits and banking. We put so much personal information online that we are more at risk than ever from identity theft.
Whilst I have never been a victim of identity theft as such, I have had fraud carried out using my bank account, with the other person using my card details to spend more than £500 online. Thankfully, we managed to recover all the money, but it was a real hassle and meant we were without a considerable amount of money for a while. We still aren’t sure how it happened, but the bank believes it all happened thanks to a phishing scam. It can be a lot worse. People have lost out on huge amounts of money, unintentionally got into debt and worse thanks to identity theft.
So, how can we protect ourselves against identity theft?
- Keep an eye on your credit score, with a site such as MyCreditMonitor. By monitoring this, you will see if anything suddenly changes and you can deal with it before it gets even worse.
- Be aware of phishing emails and scams. Check the website bar – if it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. You should never be asked to enter your pin number, and if you’re unsure if something is genuine, contact your bank.
- Don’t just throw away documents containing personal information. Shred or destroy anything with your name, address, date of birth and any financial details once you no longer need it.
- Keep an eye on your bank statements. This is how we picked up on the fraud on our account. If something is out of the ordinary or you don’t recognise a transaction, phone your bank as soon as possible.
- Make sure your passwords are strong and secure. I know we have to have passwords for everything these days, but make sure they aren’t easy to guess and change them every so often.
- Don’t write your passwords or pin numbers down anywhere. It’s tempting to store them in your phone, your diary or your purse to jog your memory, but don’t. You only have to lose it or have the wrong person see it, and bam – all your hard earned money is gone.
Doing these things will never guarantee you won’t be a victim of identity theft, but will go a long way to reducing the risks!