As we shop more and more on the internet, and of necessity divulge personal details of ourselves, identity fraud is on the increase, and becoming more sophisticated. You could find that someone has applied for a passport using your details, or has taken out a loan in your name. Try to keep key information, like your mothers maiden name, off the internet as this is often a question asked of you as an extra security check. Never use it or your place of birth as a password as it is too easy to find such information out.
Obviously if the fraud involves bank cards etc tell the bank immediately. If you have been burgled or had your handbag stolen then report it to the police as the chances are you will have lost diary, driving license, passport or phone, all of which are useful sources of identity info.
NEVER give your login details and password as no bank will request these through an email that purports to want to "update " its records. if a password actually shows up ( normally it will be a dot for each digit) stop immediately and contact your bank.
Cifas is the UK’s not for profit fraud prevention service, and if you want added protection because your identity is at risk due to crime or loss of data, then for £15 pa you can use their Protective Registration Service. This will flag up that you are at risk, and will ensure that, if someone using your name applies to them, they will undertake additional verification checks to ascertain that the applicant is genuinely you, and not a fraudster trying to commit identity theft in your name. You may experience delays while your genuine application is verified, but it does offer reassurance that your identity is protected against fraudulent applications in your name.
Your activity on line is tracked by “cookies” - tiny files that websites use to store information on you - passwords and login details for example. They can also be used to track your browsing patterns and target you for advertising. Generally its quite safe to allow your browser to accept cookies, but if you are concerned about security, or find you are getting a lot of unsolicited mail you can remove them. On a regular basis open “internet options” or “delete history” and select “delete cookies” to prevent companies building up an extensive profile on you.
Protect your computer against spyware - programs that secretly install themselves on your computer. They can ping annoying adverts to you, redirect you to websites and at worst allow criminals to scan your computer for security information. You can download free software from bona fide sites such as www.download.com or install anti spyware such as Spy Sweeper or Ad-Aware which will remove the spy programs. Always install the latest security updates when prompted.
Anti virus software and a firewall will help guard against viruses, and again keep them up to date when prompted. Install security software from a recognized name like Norton, though if you use Apple it has its own virus protection system built in security. You should also use a password on your router to prevent neighbours and hackers from intercepting or piggy backing onto your network. If others can use it they could access your computer or use your network for free and slow your user speed down.
Check that any site you input information to is encrypted - it will always start with ‘https’.
When making payments on line, always ensure that the padlock icon is at the bottom of the browser frame which helps to protect you from others who may try to capture your personal information
Never make a payment on a public wireless network or a shared or public computer - do it from your home computer using your own network.
Never click on an attachment in a spam email - it could introduce a virus or allow access to your computer. Use a filter to keep junk mail out of your in box. Likewise never click onto a link in an email to an on line website - always type the name into the browser at the top, to help avoid phishing attacks.
Back up on a regular basis. You will need to buy a plug-in hard drive or use a cloud based system. Whatever you do, save everything to a back up regularly - photos , data etc and then if you accidentally delete something you know you can recover it.
If you suddenly find that you are not receiving post, then contact your local sorting office. It is not unknown for someone to place a mail redirection order on an individual, and then simply wait for useful identity papers to arrive in the post.
Buy a shredder for documents that contain personal details, or tear them up into pieces before putting them in the bin.