Protecting yourself against identity theft online

Posted by Paul Anderson Riley in Identity Theft on 22 May 2018 - Paul is a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile

Modern day fraudsters are now able to use the internet as a helpful tool to acquire a vast amount of information about an individual just from using their name. From this, they start to build a portfolio of data that they can then use to obtain credit, bank accounts and sign up for other services. By following a few simple steps you can help to reduce the risk of being exposed to a fraudster online.

Be careful opening emails

Do not open or click within any unsolicited or unrecognisable emails, these are often phishing scams that disguise themselves in many different ways, for example; competition-winner emails, government correspondence or bank provider messages. These will encourage you to click on links that download viruses or software that help the fraudster to obtain secure information. If you are unsure if an email is official or not, contact the organisation involved and ask them to verify this.

Don't give away too much on social media

Social media is also a medium that a fraudster can use to obtain personal information. Your social media profile is likely to include a plethora of personal data that would assist identity theft and fraud. To avoid this make sure your profile is either set to private and/or avoid giving too much personal data away.

Some social media sites still give users the option to publicly share phone numbers, email addresses and their date of birth in their bio, as well as list information about which schools they attended. Short of their mother's maiden name, it's an almost complete set of answers to commonly asked security questions.

The recently added Facebook Marketplace has become a popular platform to buy and sell unwanted items, but be careful who you're giving your address out to, as this along with the information on your profile can amount to a lot of your personal information being available to strangers.

Even your car could be giving away information

Even something as simple as posting pictures of your car online can lead to exposure. Car number plate information can be used to gain access to DVLA records and addresses, which combined with the type of car you drive can give plenty of clues to your financial status. It is also important to regularly check your post to make sure you are receiving the expected amount. Some fraudsters may still try to intercept post to gain access to bank statements. By going paperless and accessing statements online you can potentially avoid these altercations.

Richard Lloyd of the Consumer Association Which? says “With ID theft on the rise, consumers should be extra careful about the information they share online. Unfortunately, you can still become a victim of fraud even if you have been vigilant...”

Check your credit report regularly

Checking your Credit Report will allow you to see what information is currently being reported about you whether it be genuine or fraudulent. You will be able to see what accounts have been reported in your name, the addresses these are registered at and any credit applications that have been made recently. By continuously monitoring a credit report alongside your bank account this will help you to highlight fraudulent activity.

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