IT Law

Five Ways To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

dentity theft is very real in today’s digital world. Many of us now bank and shop online and these online transactions provide the perfect stage for criminals to assume your identity and defraud you, your bank or the business you are buying goods or services from. The ‘good’ ones rip off all three. Here are five ways you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.

Invest in a shredder

Never throw out bank statements without putting them through a shredding machine first.

Have complicated passwords

We all know how tiresome it can be trying to remember all the different passwords you need these days.  But your password is first line of defence against online fraud.  Don’t use your children’s or dog’s name; it is too easy for criminals to hack your Facebook account to discover their names.  Instead, use a combination of letters, characters and numbers and change your passwords regularly.

Don’t fall for scams

Online fraudsters send out thousands of spam emails every day, hoping that someone will not only open the email, but act on it.  And before you dismiss such people is gullible and foolish, remember, there have been plenty of well-educated, high-earning people who have lost large amounts of money to online scammers.

In fact, being well-educated can actually work against you as it can lead to you assuming that you are too smart to fall for an online scam.

According to studies, you are most likely to fall victim to a scam if:

  • You’re generally impulsive, and prefer to make decisions without careful thought.
  • You regularly sell items on online auction sites.
  • You’ve recently had a negative change in financial status.
  • You often feel isolated or lonely.
  • You’ve recently lost a job.

Never give out financial information to a person who calls you

If an organisation such as a supermarket or shop call you asking for your credit card details to make a payment, get the name of the caller, hang up and then call back on a number that you have obtained through the internet or phone book.  Ask if the person who calls you genuinely works for the business.  Only then, give out your financial information.

Also be aware that your bank and HMRC will never ask you to provide account details via email.  

Note that a recent scam involved fraudsters pretending to be local police investigating bank staff at a branch near your address. The real police will always provide their collar number.  Obtain this from them and then call back before you provide any information.

Pay safely

If you are booking a hotel always speak to the owner before paying and try to use the websites internal payment system so you can pay by credit card. 

If buying a used car do not pay until you receive the vehicle. Always check out the care in person, no matter how cheap the offer to sell is.

Identity fraudsters and online scammers are becoming more sophisticated all the time.  You need to be constantly on your guard and be prepared to stop and think why your bank or a commercial organisation would want the information they are asking for over the phone or by email.

If you have been a victim of identity fraud or an online scam, you can find a solicitor who can advise you on Solicitors Guru.

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