8 ways to prevent identity theft
Identity theft has become a commonplace for fraudsters to wrongfully obtain personal and financial information of others to access their identity to commit fraudulent activity such as unauthorised transactions and purchases. With more and more of us using multiple devices, and inputting personal information online, the risk of identity theft has never been greater. Sadly, victims are left with damage to their credit and financial status, which can take years to overcome.
Identity theft is a result of someone stealing your personal information and gaining access to accounts such as - bank account numbers, credit card information and email accounts.
Here are eight ways in which you can prevent identity theft:
1. Be alert to phishing and spoofing
Scammers will try various methods and posing as government entities or businesses has increased since the pandemic. Phone calls, emails and SMS text messages that appear legitimate may be an attempt to steal your personal information. Keep in mind the email account or phone number from which you have received the contact; initiate a callback or cross-reference the details on the Citizens Advice site.
2. Use strong passwords and add an authentication step
The use of a password manager to store personal information and passwords can be a great way to ensure they’re not only safe but all kept in one secure place. 1Password and LastPass are great tools and both offer free trial periods.
3. Use alerts
Financial institutions often text or email when new recipients and payments are made on your accounts. Ensure you sign up to this service as it can halt any unauthorised transactions and alert you to suspicious activity on your accounts.
4. Check if you email has ever been compromised
Ydentity’s FREE email checker searches all previous email data hacks and will alert if yours has ever been compromised.
5. Shred all sensitive documents
Don’t run the risk of placing bank, mortgage or investment statements directly in the bin without shredding. They are a criminal’s dream as all your information is readily available.
6. Freeze your credit
It’s free to freeze your credit and unfreeze when you want to open an account, and it provides the best protection against an identity thief using your data to open a new account.
7. Check your credit reports regularly
Credit check reports provide historical analysis of your financial situation, which tells lenders how trustworthy you are. Based on your past financial behaviour, you're given a score. There are a number of free credit reports available.
8. Monitor financial and medical statements
Keep a regular eye on financial statements to ensure you recognise every transaction. It’s important to know standing orders and direct debit payments are due, so you can have full visibility of outgoings. If you’re in doubt about a payment, contact your banking provider immediately.
With these tips, you can limit your exposure to identity theft significantly.