Step up security and prevent identity fraud

29 August 2008 / by Rebecca Sargent
Following recent news of bank customers' details being sold on eBay, is offering tips on how to avoid identity and credit card fraud.

It may seem futile, going to great lengths to protect your personal details when somebody could buy them on eBay, but this is a rare case and it is worth making an effort to protect your identity. credit cards spokesperson, Matt Edwards warns: "More than 100,000 people fall victim to identity fraud each year, and as technology advances, so too are techniques. Identity fraudsters are incredibly inventive and are constantly finding new ways to rip you off, so it is well worth doing all you can to protect your personal details."

There are numerous methods now used by thieves to steal your identity, including credit card cloning, phishing, rummaging through your rubbish bin and now, buying or stealing details.

As a result, there are a number of actions that can be taken in order to prevent identity theft. Top protective tips from, include:

• Get a free credit report – offers a free credit report service that could help you track your finances and make sure nobody else has applied for credit in your name

• Keep all PIN numbers and online passwords hidden, even from those you feel you can trust – if it gets into the wrong hands, there is a chance you would not be insured if you had inadvertently given the fraudster your PIN or password

• Do not open emails from people you do not trust or recognise, they could contain a virus or could be a means of phishing whereby they try to get your personal information such as passwords through false log in pages etc.

• When paying for goods over the internet, pay with a credit card where possible because credit cards offer insurance against identity fraud that debit cards do not

• Also, when buying on the internet make sure that the padlock symbol is on the screen and that the web address starts with https:/ rather than http:/

• Shred all personal letters, bills and correspondence before putting it in the bin – you would be surprised at the lengths fraudsters go to in order to get their hands on your details

• Use internet banking and check all your accounts regularly – ideally at least once a day – that way if something has gone awry you can sort it out quickly

• Make sure your computer is protected with relevant anti virus and firewalls to prevent hackers

• Take extra care at cash points to cover your PIN and check for unusual devices – some cameras designed to get your PIN are the size of a small needle

Speaking of the need to protect personal information, Matt Edwards added: "It is a sad fact that we have to be so protective over our details but that's just the way it is. If you fail to do these things you are putting yourself at risk to those who make a living through fraud.

"All you can do is be as careful as possible and keep a constant eye on your finances. That way if anything does happen you can get it put right as soon as possible rather than being slack and risking losing thousands.

"One of the best ways to tell if you have been a victim of identity theft or fraud is to get a credit report which will reveal whether anybody else has been applying for credit under your name. It will also give you an understanding of where you are with your finances if you are thinking about applying for a mortgage, loan or credit card."