ID Fraud Can Damage Your Finances
It was confirmed that websites or e-mail scams were the most common source of ID Fraud scams, named by 27 per cent of people. A further 20 per cent said that they had been duped in shops, restaurants or hotels, with telephone cons coming in third. One in ten people said their morning post had been intercepted.
And if you are thinking of packing your bags and moving overseas to escape the crooks, forget it as the research found that 42 per cent of ID fraud took place out of the UK.
So could you become the latest victim of ID fraud? And, more importantly, what can you do to prevent it?
What is the point of ID fraud?
ID fraud is a very lucrative business. If criminals can get hold of enough of your personal data, they can clean out your existing accounts and set up new ones, running up debts in your name and trashing your credit rating in the process.
How do they do it?
New scams are always emerging but here are some of the most common ID Fraud:
- Stealing your handbag or wallet to get hold of key information such as your full name, address, date of birth, perhaps a cheque book and a fistful of cards
- Raiding your waste bin in the hope that you have thrown away bank, card or loan statements
- Phishing are sending you an e-mail purporting to come from a bank, building society, lottery company or someone with a lot of money to give away and asking you to enter full personal and account data in order to reset your security measures/claim a prize/whatever they have thought up this week
- Snooping on social networks, looking for basic personal information plus names and dates, children, pets, anniversaries that might be used as passwords or PINs
- Copying your details from a card or ID when you use them legitimately in a shop or other outlet
How will I know I have been ripped off?
You might get a welcome letter from a credit card account you have never heard of, you may receive notification of a debt you do not recognise or you may get turned down for credit unexpectedly. Your post might not turn up because it has been intercepted or redirected. You may simply discover an unfamiliar transaction on your bank or card statement.
The most common way to confirm ID fraud, according to the 2009 Victims of ID Fraud report from Experian credit report, is by checking your online credit report. Your credit report lists your credit card, loan and bank accounts and repayment history, so it is easy to spot anything unfamiliar. Unfortunately, you could be in big trouble by the time you get this far as Experian or their Victims of ID Fraud support service discovered that, on average, the people it helped last year took 416 days to discover what was going on.
Can you get my money back?
If you have behaved responsibly, you should. That means you have not shared your PINs and passwords, given your card or cheque book to someone and have told the relevant organisation as soon as you suspect something is wrong for example, if you lost your wallet or things have gone missing in a burglary. The terms and conditions of any account may specify a small excess that you have to pay before they step in. The Infoseceurity survey found that 91 per cent of people who lost more than £5,000 got all their money back, while only 41 per cent of people who lost less than £100 were fully compensated although this may have something to do with the persistence of the people involved.
What if new accounts have been set up in my name?
You should get in touch with the relevant lenders immediately their contact details are on your credit report and inform them what has happened. You will need to provide proof. Experian has a Victims of ID Fraud service may be able to help you with this. Your aim should be to get the accounts cancelled and removed from your credit report while they are still there, you may find it difficult to obtain a new credit card, personal loan or bank current account, as lenders will see the chaos caused by the fraudster and may believe that you are irresponsible and a bad risk.
How can I avoid becoming a victim of ID fraud?
Make sensible precautions part of everyday life. The Home Office recommends regular checks on your credit report as a good protection against ID fraud as the sooner you learn to spot a problem, the easier it will be to resolve.
Take the following steps to prevent ID Fraud:
- Shredding statements and other sensitive documents before binning them.
- Checking your statements carefully every month and always query unfamiliar entries.
- Limiting the information you put up on social networks to your name only if possible.
- Always delete unsolicited e-mails, never clicking through to linked websites and ignoring cold callers who ask for personal data.
- Never sharing your PINs, passwords, cards or other account information.
- Do not let anyone take your credit card or debit card out of your sight in shops, restaurants or hotels in case itis being cloned in a back room.
If you have any thoughts, experiences and comments about ID fraud let us know.