What steps can I take to help avoid becoming a victim of identity theft?

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1. Keep your information private

  • Keep important documents– for example, your passport, driving licence and policy documents – in a safe place.
  • Shred or destroy all documents which contain financial information or information which otherwise identifies you. Use ‘micro-cut’ shredders for added safety.
  • Don't use the same password for more than one account and never use banking passwords for any other websites.
  • Keep your passwords safe and never record or store them in a way that leaves them open to theft, for example in your purse or wallet.
  • If you change address, get your mail redirected and tell all your financial and other organisations about your change of address immediately.
  • If your passport or driving licence is lost or stolen, contact the relevant organisation straightaway. If your plastic cards are lost or stolen, cancel them immediately.
  • If you stop receiving mail, or if it’s regularly delayed, contact the Royal Mail straightaway to find out why – as fraudsters may be intercepting it. 

2. Ensure your internet connection and computer are secure

  • Always ensure your computer ‘firewalls’, anti-virus protection and other software are kept up to date.
  • Only provide personal information using secure web pages – these will have a URL address starting with ‘https’, rather than http. A lock icon will also appear at or near the top of your browser window.
  • Consider purchasing a product that offers online identity theft monitoring and protection.

3. Be careful sharing your personal information

  • Beware of 'phishing scams' – don’t click on links in unsolicited emails or give log-in information for online accounts. If you’re unsure, contact the institution that’s requesting the information to make sure it’s legitimate. 
  • Don’t give out your National Insurance number unless absolutely necessary.
  • Be wary of sharing your personal information on social media. Regularly check the security settings for your account to ensure your details can only be seen by your intended audience.

4. Remain vigilant

  • Be suspicious if you’re unexpectedly contacted by telephone, email, post or fax asking for personal information, for example a policy number. 
  • Check your financial statements regularly and let your bank know straightaway if there are any transactions you don’t recognise.
  • If you’re a company director, consider using different signatures for your company and personal transactions.
  • Check your credit report regularly, at least once or twice a year. This can often be obtained free of charge. Make sure you recognise all entries, and follow up immediately if you don’t.

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