Police forces nationwide are renewing their advice and warnings about identity crime and software fraud, and are urging people to be extra vigilant when it comes to giving out personal details and keeping their own identity safe.
The theft of someone’s identity can be used to carry out criminal activity. This involves unauthorised use of names and personal details to either steal from you or commit a crime in your name. Identity theft can be carried out online, physically by using printed documents, or by a combination of the two.
Some of the main points to remember is don’t be tricked into divulging personal data in response to an email, text, letter or phone call. Be careful about who has access to important paper documents such as bank statements, utility bills, tax returns, passport or your driving licence. If possible, arrange for paperless bills and statements.
Don’t share too much of your private information with family, friends or people who take you into their confidence. And be aware of shoulder surfing – people looking over your shoulder at your computer, smartphone, tablet, or at the cash machine.
Some things to be aware of:
•Receiving credit cards which you did not apply for or denial of credit for no apparent reason.
•Receiving calls from debt collectors or companies about things you haven’t bought.
•Entries on your bank, credit or store card statement for goods you didn’t order. This also applies to unrecognisable entries on your credit history.
•Not receiving bills or other correspondence. This might suggest a criminal has given a different address in place of your own.
•When buying or selling online, you receive complaints about non-delivery of or non-payment for goods you don’t know about.
•You cannot log into a site using your normal password. A criminal may have logged in as you, then changed it.
What to do if you think or know your identity has been stolen.
•Act promptly in order to minimise any impact of the theft, and report any lost or stolen documents immediately.
•File your sensitive documents securely, and shred those you no longer need.
•Check all your personal information on websites to make sure it’s still correct.
•Contact affected websites and advise them about any problems. If you can, log in and change your password immediately using a strong password. If you can’t log in, contact the website’s technical support department. If a website requires a secret question change that too if you can.
•If selling or buying online, check for other transactions, items for sale, or items purchased in your name which have not originated from you. Then cancel them.
•Ensure you always have effective and updated antivirus or anti-spyware software running.
•Ask your bank, building society or credit card company for advice (e.g. Freezing accounts, getting new cards, passwords or PINs). Most will refund any amount lost providing you weren’t negligent in some way.
•Do not continue to use a compromised PIN number
•Notify Royal Mail if you suspect mail theft or that mail redirection has been fraudulently set up on your address.
Don’t let criminals trick you:
•Never reveal personal or financial data including usernames, passwords, PINs, or ID numbers.
•Make sure people or organisations who you give your payment card information to are genuine. Never reveal your passwords. Remember that a bank or other reputable organisation will never ask you for your password via email or phone call.
•If you receive a call requesting confidential information, verify it’s authentic by asking for a full and correct spelling of the person’s name and a call back number.
•If you are asked by such a caller to cut off the call and phone your bank or card provider, call the number on your bank statement or card. Do not call the one given to you by the caller, or the number you were called from.
•Do not open attachments or click on links in emails sent from unknown sources. Roll your mouse pointer over the link to reveal its actual destination which will be displayed in the bottom left corner of your screen. Beware if this is different from the text in the link.
•Do not attach external storage devices or insert CD-ROMs/DVD-ROMs into your computer if you are not certain of the source, or just because you are curious about their contents.