Top five tips to avoid identity theft
#1 Protect Your Identity
- It may sound obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people are careless with information that can be used by criminals to pass themselves off as their victims.
- Take care of documents and other items you carry around with you — like credit cards. Keep them out of sight and out of reach and leave those you don’t need at home.
- Equally, don’t be too generous with information about yourself on the Internet, especially on social networks like Facebook. Disclosing info such as your address, phone number and/or your employer, all provides valuable background for ID thieves.
#2 Strengthen Your Digital Security
- Don't use the same password for all of your financial accounts. Vary the passwords from account to account.
- Avoid easily guessed PINs like birth dates, common numerical sequences, phone number etc.
- Good passwords for websites containing personal information will include capital and small letters, numbers and characters, and be at least 8 characters long.
- Never store passwords or sensitive information on your computer.
#3 Protect your Computer
- Many identity thieves now use complex software such as spyware and keyloggers to obtain sensitive information such as passwords and login details without the user's knowledge.
- Just because you can't see anything wrong with your computer doesn't mean that it is safe to use.
- Unlike viruses and adware, many spyware and keylogger programs are designed for stealth, so that they can gather as many passwords and sensitive data as possible.
- A strong and regularly updated firewall, anti-virus program and anti-spyware program will provide most of the protection an individual needs.
#4 Beware of Phishing Scams
- If you get an e-mail claiming to be from your bank telling you to check or update your information, do not use the link in the e-mail, even if the e-mail letterhead/background looks like it came from your bank.
- If you think the e-mail is real, log on directly to the company or bank's website and check your records there; if there are no changes, you just avoided being scammed. You can also call your bank to verify––Do not use any numbers provided in the email.
- Other phishing scams include false lottery wins, requests for money to "help" people who have lost money/tickets/house, etc. and claims from Nigerian princes on-the-run.
- Check the Action Fraud website (www.actionfraud.police.uk) for updates to keep you forewarned. Some non-profit consumer watchdog agencies and consumer-safety oriented TV shows, such as Don’t Get Done Get Dom, will also have similar information available online.
#5 Take Care When Shopping Online
Check that the site is legitimate––never go to a site from a random email and start purchasing. Go to the site through a known URL or by searching for it on a search engine first.
- Consider keeping a separate credit card just for online purchases. This will make it easier to cancel if something bad does happen and your other credit card for "in real life" can still be used unhindered.
- Don't store information on any store's website. It may be convenient but it's also a possible loss to you if the site is hacked.
If you have any concerns regarding fraud, bribery or corruption in the NHS, please contact our Counter Fraud Specialist, Penny Gee on 0115 883 5323 or email firstname.lastname@example.org