Be safe - Protect your identity
page provides information on how to protect yourself from identity theft,
tips on to stay safe online, advice on how to check your credit
rating, and some tips on other ways to stay safe...
Protect your identity
Identity theft is on the
increase. It's remarkably easy for someone to get information on you, get
access to your credit card, account details or home address. Be extra vigilant
with credit card details and statements.
are some basic tips for identity protection - also, read the section below
on 'Protection online'
Remember that crooks don't need
your card to help run up your bill... just the card number and expiry
date. Keep safe. Also, think about the following:
- Consider cancelling unused
credit & store cards. Less to worry about being stolen and keeping
track of, and less paper statements.
- Consider getting a credit
card that uses the new Chip and PIN technology recently introduced in the UK - using a PIN for
in-store transactions is much safer than a signature
- When using your card, don't
let the card out of your sight if at all possible - this helps protect
your card against being 'skimmed' - card details, expiry date and
security number being copied.
a document shredder. Think of how many bank statements, bills and
credit card slips you chuck in the bin, and how they could be used as
proof of identity.
stock five shredders, with prices from £17.99 to £62.99 (including Fellowes Shredders),
the main difference being the size of the bin (between 12 and 25 litre
capacity). Better still, check out the range of Shredders from Euroffice
Getting a mains-powered paper shredder for home is affordable, and could
save you a lot of hassle.
sense applies here:
use the same PIN for all your cards
write PINs down, or tell them to anyone
- Be cautious
when entering a PIN - who's watching over your shoulder?
going ex-directory. Contact BT
getting a SkypeIn number from www.skype.com for a small one-off fee, to protect your main home number,
and to screen unwanted calls - Calls get diverted to your PC or to voicemail.
with the Telephone Preference
Service. Helps to reduce unwanted marketing calls and junk text
messages. Online registration only takes a minute, and is free.
big one here is the Electoral Roll (controlled by your local
council). First off, go to www.192.com,
create yourself a free account, then try searching for yourself. You
may find that your name, address and number are listed on this site
either as a result of the electoral roll, or from a phone book entry.
As well as being searchable online, the information on 192.com is available
to anyone on a CD.
out their Record Correction form.
When completing the annual electoral roll form, make sure you elect
not to have your details made publicly available. More at www.192.com
if your computer were to be stolen - letters, bank details, personal
information, address book and calendar. How much data would you lose?
a backup, and keep it away from your computer
protect your machine if possible, and password-protect sensitive data
yourself a good virus checker and make sure it's up-to-date. We recommend
Internet Security, which contains AntiVirus, Anti-spam and
a Firewall for maximum protection. Available from Amazon
birth certificate and driving licence should be locked away safely. There's
no need to carry your driving licence around with you, and keeping it
in your wallet or handbag can be dangerous, especially as it contains
your home address.
- Take care with emails that
claim to be from your bank, or from the likes of Ebay
or PayPal. There's been
much in the news recently on what's known as 'phishing' - fake emails
and websites so realistic-looking, that people freely enter personal
details. One thing you can do to protect yourself is to cut down on
the amount of spam you get - consider getting Cloudmark, an excellent anti-spam solution
viruses are delivered by email, and if you're not protected, you can
spread the virus to your friends via your address book, and open your
computer to hackers. Get yourself a good virus checker and make sure
it's up-to-date. We recommend Norton
Internet Security from Amazon
your computer connects to the Internet, you open yourself to attack,
either by email viruses, downloaded files containing a malicious program,
or take-over attempts by other computers. This is especially dangerous
users who have an always-on connection.
Get yourself a good security application,
and make sure you keep it up-to-date. We recommend Norton
Internet Security, which contains an AntiVirus program (for
files and emails), an anti-spam tool, and a Firewall to stop unwanted
instructions. The program should be configured for automatic update,
to download the latest virus definitions as soon as possible. Norton
is available from Amazon
your security now: Try the Symantec
many of us have personal information that's used by banks, sitting on
public web pages...
with Friends Reunited? You could have made it easy for someone
to find out your school, place-of-birth and birth year, plus other
personal information. Check your listing now at www.friendsreunited.co.uk,
and any other similar sites you're registered with
tree? Are you, or anyone you know, working on your family tree?
If so, your place of birth and mother's maiden name may be 'out there'
- Try separate websearches using
www.google.com for the following,
and see what's already out there:
- Your home and mobile phone numbers
- Your email address
- Your postcode
password? One of the worst things you can do, is have a single password
for all of the Internet sites you're registered with. While banks
have very strong security in place, are you sure that the small sites
you visit are storing your details safely and securely?
sure your passwords can't be guessed.
If you run a UK website, your
details can be publicly available. UK domains are controlled by Nominet.
Go to their site and perform a WHOIS search for your domain to see what's
on file under 'Registrant' for your site.
something there that shouldn't be - contact your ISP / hosting company
and tell them that you want to opt-out. They'll arrange to update the
domain name record held by Nominet on your behalf.
your credit status
are three main UK credit reference agencies that financial organisations use
when checking your identity or processing an application for credit or financial
services. For £2, each company has to provide you with a copy of what
they hold on file for you. This includes:
on currents loans
list of companies that have performed recent 'checks'
It's well worth paying £2 to each of the following to get
hold of the information they hold on you:
- Various services available, but a summary can be requested and paid
for online. Report is posted. Enhanced services are offered by Experian at www.creditexpert.co.uk
- £2 for the basic statutory form sent by post, or a plain-English
version online for £8.25
£2 for the basic statutory form sent by post - a PDF form can be downloaded. A text message service available.
- Annual Credit Report - Get free access to a basic credit check, in return for signing up to an email newsletter
If you're serious about your credit score, you can get a free Experian credit report and a free trial of Experian's CreditExpert Monitoring Service. More details of this offer at www.creditexpert.co.uk.
A similar service is offered by Equifax.
moving house, it's worth ordering the £2
reports after a few months, to see who still has your old address on file
Reduce your mail
completing your annual electoral roll form for your local council, tick
the "Opt out of the Electoral Roll for marketing purposes" option
- Reduce the amount of unsolicited or junkmail you receive, by registering
at the Mailing Preference Service. Go to www.mpsonline.org.uk
and fill in the online form for removal from major mailing lists
- If buying from
a company for the first time, have a quick search for the company name, plus
the word "complaint" on Google,
or see the list of consumer complaint sites on our Making
a Complaint advice page.
buying a car, get it checked out. Go to www.theaa.com
where for a small fee, they can run an AA Car Data Check, to check mileage,
outstanding finance, and whether the car has been reported stolen, plus
Take a look at Free ID Protection a proactive means of securing your credit files. The site provides free Notice of Correction letters which are sent to the 3 Credit Reference Agencies.
Thanks to site visitor
James for suggesting the following link: BBC
Moneybox report - this offers some proactive advice including getting
a Notice of Correction added to your credit files.