Action Fraud has launched an identity fraud campaign with the City of London Police, Cifas and Equifax, asking members of the public to consider how careful they are with their personal and financial details. A recent YouGov Survey commissioned by Equifax found that the UK population are failing to take basic steps like protecting passwords or installing anti-virus software to protect their identities from criminals.
Identity fraud has been growing steadily over the past 10 years according to the 2016 Annual Fraud Indicator and it is estimated that the cost of identity fraud to the UK is £5.4billion. Figures recorded by Cifas show that identity fraud now represents over half of all fraud members, with 9 out of 10 perpetrated online. In 2016, 172,919 people reported identity fraud to Cifas.
The recent survey commissioned by Equifax has helped to reveal some of the public’s attitudes towards protecting their identity.
How to protect yourself from identity fraud:
- Set your privacy settings across all the social media channels you use. And just think twice before you share details – in particular your full date of birth, your address, contacts details – all this information can be useful to fraudsters!
- Password protect your devices. Keep your passwords complex by picking three random words, such as roverducklemon and add or split them with symbols, numbers and capitals: R0v3rDuckLemon!
- Install anti-virus software on your laptop and any other personal devices and then keep it up to date. MoneySavingExpert have a recommended list of the best free anti-virus software: www.moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/free-anti-virus-software
- Take care on public wi-fi – fraudsters hack them or mimic them. If you’re using one, avoid accessing sensitive apps such as mobile banking.
- Download updates to your software when your device prompts you – they often add enhanced security features.
What to do if you’re a victim:
- ACT FAST if you think you have been a victim of identity fraud.
- If you receive any mail that seems suspicious or implies you have an account with the sender when you don’t, do not ignore it.
- Get a copy of your credit report as it is one of the first places you can spot if someone is misusing your personal information – before you suffer financial loss. Review every entry on your credit report and if you see an account or even a credit search from a company that you do not recognise, notify the credit reference agency. They all offer a free service to victims of fraud.
- Individuals or businesses who have fallen victim to identity fraud should report to www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud
- If you have information about those committing identity crime please tell independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously online or call on 0800 555 111.