Driving licences, breathalysers, tow ropes and Yorkie bars
Posted in 'Identity Theft' by Richard Catlin
10 July 2012
A new law in France means that you’re now legally required to have two self-test breathalysers in the car with you – and can receive an on-the-spot fine if you aren’t able to produce them if stopped. Similarly, you’re required to carry a shovel in your car at all times in Sweden, and a tow rope is compulsory in Macedonia. Apparently a Yorkie bar is also mandatory in Essex.
In the UK meanwhile, though safety equipment such as warning triangles and blankets are recommended, they are not legally required. More importantly, you’re perfectly entitled to leave your driving licence safely at home, rather than carry it with you.
Unless you need your licence for a specific purpose– hiring a vehicle perhaps, or if you’re lucky enough to “look under 21” when buying alcohol, then there is no benefit at all in having it with you. Instead, all you are doing is making it much easier for identity thieves, should your wallet or purse get lost or stolen.
Although the Road Traffic Act (1988) states that you must show your driving licence if requested by a police officer, you can request a form –HORT 1 – and instead produce your documents at a police station of your choice within 7 days. It means making an extra trip, but will vastly reduce your chances of falling victim to ID theft.
Identity fraud remains a serious problem. Figures from CIFAS, the UK’s fraud prevention service, show that the number of reported cases continues to rise, with account takeover in particular – where fraudsters employ a variety of tactics to take control of your existing bank accounts – increasing by 82% in the first four months of this year compared to 2011.
In addition to being careful about what documents you carry with you, there are a few other basic tips that can help you stay safe:
• Limit the amount of personal information you disclose on social networks such as Facebook - especially your place of birth and mother’s maiden name
• Don’t carry more credit or debit cards than you need at any one time
• Close any accounts you no longer use – and make certain that none are still registered at an old address
• Shred or burn any bank statements or other confidential papers. Cardiff residents in particular have recently been targeted by bin divers looking for personal information
• Use a specific credit card at identity theft ‘hot spots’ such as petrol stations or restaurants – this will allow you to spot any unusual transactions much more quickly
• Check your credit report regularly.
When it comes to identity theft, prevention is better than cure - so next time you load up the car, remember to leave one thing at home – your driving licence.
Richard Catlin is Marketing Manager at checkmyfile.com. He has a degree in Geography from the University of Glamorgan and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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