CIFAS (the UK’s fraud prevention service) warns of the danger of identity theft if house owners are not scrupulously careful about securing all personal data in their home effectively and when moving home. It cites the case of a man who took himself off the electoral register in his old home and redirected his post through Royal Mail only to find himself targeted by identity thieves six months after the move.
The fraudsters had re-registered the homeowner onto the electoral roll, set up a company in his name and run up large utilities debts and other bills. The fraud only came to light after his application for a credit card was refused.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is when a person’s personal details are stolen, and can happen whether that person is alive or dead.
Identity thieves can steal your personal information in a number of ways, including going through your post or rubbish to find bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers or tax information.
They could steal personal information from your wallet or purse by taking a driving licence, or credit or bank cards, or could obtain your credit report by posing as someone who has a lawful right to the information.
Some individuals may use the internet to acquire the personal information you share on unsecured sites. They may also use
Your information could even be stolen while you shop. In some cases, fraudsters may even ‘skim’ your credit card information when you make a purchase, leading to card cloning or card-not-present fraud.
The following are ways to help prevent you from identity theft:
- Keep all personal document secure and ensure there are no personal documents or other papers carrying your name and details anywhere in the house when you leave
- Protect your internet-connected devices with up-to-date security software, and make sure you install all official software updates and security fixes on such devices
- Don’t throw out anything containing your name, address or financial details without shredding it
- Keep checks on your credit records regularly
- If you are moving home, make sure you redirect your mail, register with the Mail Preference Service and make sure to inform your utilities, service providers and everyone of your new address in good time to avoid any mail going to your old address
- End utility and landline telephone contracts before you move out of the home
- If any of your things are going into storage, make sure there’s nothing personally identifiable from the boxes
- Be careful when using public wi-fi networks. Never use them to access sensitive apps or sites, such as mobile banking
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