The Crime Prevention Website

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See also Nuisance telephone calls

Identity theft, leading to identity fraud, is one of the fastest growing crimes in the UK.  Identity theft is exactly what it says; it’s the misappropriation of another person’s identify without their knowledge or consent.  When that stolen identity is used to obtain goods or services by deception it is called ‘Identity Fraud’.

The number of identity frauds in the UK recorded by CIFAS (See below) indicates a continuous rise since 2007; since when the number of incidents have risen by staggering 74.2%

Number of Identity Frauds

  • 2007  65,043
  • 2008  77,500
  • 2009  102,327
  • 2010  102,500
  • 2011  113,259

Source Various and CIFAS Website

Identify fraudsters will use your personal information to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards and loans, deceive the government out of state benefits, order goods and services over the phone and on-line, take over bank and credit card accounts and obtain documents, such as driving licences and passports. Being the victim of identity fraud can have quite dreadful consequences including denial of credit, loss of monies, many hours spent sorting out the problems, demands for payment etc. We don’t know the exact figure for all types of identity crime, but it’s estimated to cost the UK economy over £3 Billion with about 2 Million victims.   

In respect to identity fraud the information is obtained from you by stealing the rubbish left out for the bin collectors, picking up the receipts left at tills or at cash points, through burglary from your home or workplace and theft from the person, by hacking your computer (especially when using an insecure Wi-Fi connection) and by emailing or telephoning you pretending to be your bank or building society or some other organisation, such as a charity.

The identity thief and fraudster are interested in the following property and or information:

Numbers

  • Bank Account Numbers
  • Credit, Debit and Store Card numbers
  • PINs (Personal Identification Numbers) (Often made up from dates of birth!)
  • Dates of Birth
  • Mobile and Landline Phone numbers
  • National Insurance Numbers
  • Payroll numbers
  • Pension reference numbers
  • Passport numbers

Names

  • Yours and your family’s Names and Addresses (Children’s names often used as passwords)
  • Passwords
  • Doctor’s details
  • Your signature

Cards

  • Credit, Debit and Store Cards
  • Loyalty Cards
  • Membership Cards, especially those with photos
  • Workplace Identity Cards
  • European Health Insurance Card (Carries your name and date of birth)

Statements and Bills

  • Bank statements
  • Credit Card statements
  • Utility bills
  • Council Tax bills

Certificates and Documents

  • Insurance certificates
  • Vehicle Registration Documents
  • Investment documents
  • Income Tax documents
  • Passports
  • Driving licences (which carry the date of birth)
  • Photos
  • Receipts
  • Marriage certificates
  • Family’s Birth certificates
  • Vet’s registration cards for family pets

How to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of Identify Fraud

Your mail

  • Make a note of when your various bills and statements arrive.  If one doesn’t turn up or is very late contact the sender.  The late arrival of bank or credit card statement may indicate that that somebody has taken over your account and changed the mailing address.
  • If you suddenly stop receiving mail contact the Royal Mail to make sure it hasn’t been stolen or redirected without your permission 
  • If you receive a totally unexpected item of mail approving or denying any type of financial service contact the sender immediately.  Confirm the sender’s telephone number by looking it up in the phone book or on the internet. Receipt of such letters might indicate that somebody has attempted to secure funding or a service in your name
  • If you live in a house in multiple occupation or a block of flats make sure that the landlord or managing agent provides individual, lockable letters boxes for each household. This is to minimise the chance of mail being stolen
  • If you live in a single dwelling and use an external post box for your mail make sure it is lockable
  • On receipt of a letter from your bank, building society or credit card company informing you that new cards will be delivered to your address within the next few days, remember to look out for them and contact the sender if nothing arrives
  • Shred all discarded items of mail and documents that carry personal details about you, including envelopes printed with your name and address
  • Consider using a lockable filing cabinet at home to store documents and statements and other personal information
  • Shred all documents before disposal. Use a cross-cut shredder in preference to a single-cut shredder as a cross-cut offers a considerably higher level of security
  • If you are planning to be away from your home address for a while consider using Royal Mail’s ‘Keepsafe™’ service.  For a small fee the Royal Mail with hold your post for up to two months
  • When you move address inform your bank, building society, credit card companies etc. of the change as soon as possible and get Royal Mail to forward the mail to your new address for 1 year
  • When you receive new bank, credit and store cards in the post sign them immediately with an indelible ink pen

Theft and Burglary

  • Keep your home secured. Follow the advice throughout this website
  • Protect yourself from theft when out and about.  Keep your handbag closed at all times, don’t hang it on the back of a chair and minimise your risks by only carrying the cards you intend to use
  • When out, keep documents such as passports, driving licences and credit cards separate from each other.
  • Keep documents such as passports, driving licences, birth and marriage certificates in a safe. (See Safes on this website)
  • Don’t leave or keep documents in your vehicle

Checking

  • Make regular checks of your credit report to look for any unusual activity (See below)
  • Keep all receipts and your own record of bank and credit card transactions and check their statements thoroughly to identify any unauthorised purchases and or cash withdrawals. Thieves will often take very small amounts so that you and your bank won’t notice

Requests for personal information

  • Never, ever give your personal details to people purporting to be collecting for charity or carrying out research in the street
  • Never, ever give your personal details to people calling at your door unless you are absolutely confident that they are who they say they are
  • If you receive a phone call from an unknown person or are responding to a phone message to ring an unknown number do not give out any personal information.  Fraudsters may pretend to be from your bank in an attempt to get your account details, PIN or password.  The caller may already have certain information about you to aid the deception. Banks don’t phone their customers about these matters. End the call, dial 471 (you may be lucky and get the caller’s number) and report the matter to your bank using a known telephone number.
  • If you are suspicious about calls from organisations such as the police and local authority, particularly if they are asking you for personal information, call them back using published switchboard telephone numbers

Passwords and PINs

  • Use ‘Strong’ Passwords. Use 12 to 14 characters where possible. Randomly generated passwords are best. Try and use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and other symbols where possible. E.g. 6Thg72blz8Sx% 
  • Avoid ‘Weak’ Passwords.  Avoid passwords, which can be guessed, such as those based on dictionary words, letter or number sequences, usernames, relative or pet names, former boyfriends and girlfriend’s names, ID numbers and dates and any words or numbers that are present on documents that could be associated with you, such as the name of the house you live in E.g. Redhouse2012 
  • The type of password you can use may be constrained by the website you are visiting
  • Although a nuisance try and use different passwords for different bank and building society accounts
  • If you have to write down your passwords, keep them in a security rated safe (See Safes on this website)
  • Visit this link to Wikipedia for further information about passwords
  • PINs (Personal Identification Number) should not relate to dates of birth, address numbers or any other number that could associated with the user, such as numbers found on the user’s documents

Making payments

  • When making payments do not let your credit or debit card go out of sight.   
  • Wherever you use the card to pay for goods cover the keypad with your other hand when inputting your PIN. Credit cards can be swiped or ‘skimmed’ using an out-of-sight (under the counter) reader without the customer noticing.  The information can be put onto another metallic strip card and used with the recorded PIN. See also Taking care at cash-points on this website)
  • When paying in restaurants and bars go to the till point to make the payment or get them to bring the payment machine to your table. Do not hand over your card unless you can see it at all times.
  • When using your cards on-line make sure you have the latest security software installed and only use sites that provide secure payment (look out for the padlock symbol at the beginning of the URL)

Using the internet

  • Further information coming soon