Identity Theft is when your personal details are used by a criminal. They may use your identity for financial fraud to get a bank loan or a credit card or launder money. You do not know until you find yourself saddled with debts. If you can prove these debts are not your responsibility then you will not be liable for them but this can be very difficult.
The information used by criminals will start with your name and address and date of birth. They can get your name and address from the Electoral Register and some people have this information not revealed but this can cause trouble if they want credit. The credit reference agencies look at the Electoral Register to check your details.
Your date of birth is used by many companies as part of their verification process. If you are being tempted to enter a competition and they ask for your name and address and then DOB be very careful.
Useful to criminals are email address, previous addresses, mother’s maiden name, your birthplace, pin number, bank account details, N.I. number and passwords.
Prevention is best. Do not ever give information to telephone callers who claim to be the police, your bank, computer technicians or HMRC. They are very persuasive but do not cooperate at all. If you are worried you can call whoever it was supposed to be , later on, using a telephone number from their correspondence.
It is fine to buy something on the phone and give your details if you made the call yourself from an advert you saw in the paper. You made the call.
Ignore emails that ask you for information and do not click on links that say they will take you to an official website.
Destroy documents with your personal data and receipts and letters with your name and address.
Sadly not all fraudsters are master criminals. One lady had loans taken out in her name and her home remortgaged by her husband forging her signature.
No one is really safe so how can you avoid this happening to you.
Firstly, the same old advice. Check your bank statements. Notice if any payments you do not recognise are being taken.
Secondly , you can get a copy of your credit file. You can check for entries you do not recognise and see if anyone is trying to get a loan. This is free of charge.
www.noddle.co.uk will give you your Callcredit score; www.clearscore.com your Equifax score;
www.experian.co.uk has a scheme called Protectmy ID which lets you know of activity on your accounts. These are all free.
They all ask for lots of information that I have been telling you to keep secret. But you chose to call them so you know who they are.
If you become a victim you can contact actionfraud.police.uk or phone 0300 123 2040. The website contains a lot of information about fraud and scams and they will help you.
Beware of Fraud Recovery Fraud where, after you are a victim, you get a caller pretending to be the police or a lawyer and claiming they will help you. Of course, they need your details. No!! Put the phone down!
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is completely confidential. The articles I write for the Crier are always based on true stories but I disguise the client so they could never be identified.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is at 7 Atholl Crescent. Drop in is 10am-12 noon, Monday to Friday or phone 01738 450581 for an appointment in the afternoon. If the line is busy you can leave a message and you will get a call-back. The number will come up as ‘Withheld’ to protect your privacy.
01738 450580 is the Advice Line. This line is often busy but if you leave a message your call will be returned.
Everything is confidential, even the fact that you visited the bureau.
There is also a web-site run by the CAB. adviceguide.org.uk covers many topics and is easy to use. A.H