Protecting your identity doesn't have to be a chore. Follow our simple steps and stay safe.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information such as your name, date of birth, your PPS number, or your mother’s maiden name.
They can use this information to open bank accounts, apply for credit cards, request credit histories, and commit other types of fraud in your name. Information can be gotten in many ways but usually from bins, intercepting post or tricking people into handing it over willingly to fraudsters without realising it.
The rise in social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Friends Reunited also offer increased avenues for fraudsters to operate. These sites can be a lot of fun but at the same time there are some risks associated with placing valuable information about yourself online. The information posted is increasingly being used illegally to obtain products and services without our knowledge. The more information you give about yourself, the more vulnerable you become to fraud.
Tips for avoiding identity theft
You can cut your risk of identity theft if you follow some simple rules:
1. Stay safe online
- Avoid using the internet in public places, like internet cafes.
- Keep your passwords private and change them often.
- Make sure you have the latest security updates on your computer
- Install a personal firewall to protect your computer’s contents.
- Install an anti spyware programme, and password protect your computer.
- Never leave your computer unattended when you are logged into your account
- Keep a record of all your online transactions
- Be extremely cautious about the type of information that you make public.
- Never post your personal details such as telephone number, date of birth, address or employment details on Social networking sites.
- Learn about site security privacy features on social networking sites and set them to a level you are comfortable with. Be careful who you allow to be your ‘friend’ or join your network.
- Take extreme care when allowing applications access to your pages.
- Opt out where you can - companies may send you marketing mail or share your details in mailing lists with other companies.
- Always supervise children and teenagers when they are using the internet.
2. Keep your personal information to yourself
- Don’t send or share personal information via email or over the phone
- Don’t choose PIN numbers or passwords that are easy to guess, like your date of birth, pets’ or children’s names.
- Memorise your PIN numbers and passwords so they aren’t written anywhere. Don’t share them, even with family and friends.
- Think very carefully before giving information to researchers or charity collectors.
- Protect mail left in communal areas of residential properties.
3. Keep yourself and your bank informed
- Check your bank statement regularly and notify us immediately if you notice anything suspicious. You can use your online banking to do this regularly
- If you don't get a Bank or Credit card statement or any other expected financial information, inform your bank or card issuer as soon as possible.
- Keep your personal details up to date, so we can contact you as quickly as possible.
- Make sure all your mail is redirected if you are changing address. If you haven’t received a bank or credit statement, tell your financial institution immediately.
- Get a copy of your credit reference file from the Irish Credit Bureau, to make sure that everything is in order (this may cost a small fee).
4. Keep and destroy your information safely
- Store your personal information in a secure place
- Destroy any documents with personal information on them by shredding, cross shredding is recommended. this should include receipts, pre-approved applications, bank statements, insurance renewal notices and bills among others.
- Cut up your expired bank cards.
How do you know you’ve been a victim of identity theft?
If any of the following apply to you, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
- You receive letters from banks, solicitors, debt collectors, or finance companies that are not yours or that you did not previously know about.
- You’re refused a financial service, even though you have good credit history.
- You receive invoices or bills from goods or services you’ve never ordered.
- You apply for a state benefit, but you are told that you are already claiming.
- You are billed for a mobile phone contract that has been set up in your name without your knowledge or consent.
- You have lost or had an important document stolen such as your passport or driving licence.
Take a look at the following videos from the UK National Fraud Authority for more information: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/what-is-fraud