Fraud is on the rise, with more and more scams coming to light each day, so it is vital that you know how to protect yourself.

Whether it’s your personal data or your money, there’s lots you can do to make sure yourself and your family are protected.

Identity theft is one of the most common scams in the UK. It happens when fraudsters access enough information about someone’s identity (such as their name, date of birth, current or previous addresses) to commit identity fraud. Identity theft can take place whether the fraud victim is alive or deceased.

Stealing an individual’s identity details does not, on its own, constitute identity fraud.

But using that identity for any of the following activities does:

- Open bank accounts.
- Obtain credit cards, loans and state benefits.
- Order goods in your name.
- Take over your existing accounts.
- Take out mobile phone contracts.
- Obtain genuine documents such as passports and driving licences in your name.

How can I spot it?

The first you know of it may be when you receive bills or invoices for things you haven’t ordered, or when you receive letters from debt collectors for debts that aren’t yours.

If you’re a victim of identity theft, it can lead to fraud that can have a direct impact on your personal finances and could also make it difficult for you to obtain loans, credit cards or a mortgage until the matter is resolved.

Top tips for staying safe

Don't give out sensitive information

Your bank, or any other company you deal with, will never ask you to reveal sensitive information such as your PIN or your account log in details. If you receive a request like this, end the call and call back on a number you know to be genuine. You should also make sure you shred all sensitive documents before throwing them away.

Be wary of requests to move money

If any company asks you to move money from one account to another, you should proceed with extreme caution. Especially if you’re being asked to pay a small sum in order to borrow money.

Don't click unfamiliar links or open emails

If you get an unexpected email or text from a company and it doesn’t feel quite right, don’t click links, open attachments or call the number providers if it differs from one you know to be genuine.

Don't bow to pressure

Criminals often use scare tactics to get unsuspecting victims to let their guard down. If someone tells you that you’ve been a victim of fraud or is trying to rush you into action, take a step back and ask yourself why. Don’t be afraid to question, as doing so is often enough to send criminals running.

You should check your credit report regularly, and you can also set up a credit report checking service to alert you to any key changes on your credit file that could indicate potential fraudulent activity with the following agencies: TransUnionEquifax, Experian, ClearScore, Noddle.

Remember, you bank will never:

  • Ask for your PIN or password, even by tapping them into your phone keypad
  • Ask for more than a couple of characters from your password – pay extra attention if they do this as you could inadvertently give them your whole password
  • Ask you to transfer money to a safe account to protect you from fraud
  • Send someone to your home to collect cash, PIN, cards, or cheque books if you're a victim of fraud
  • Ask you to withdraw money or make purchases and give it to them for safe-keeping

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