- Identity Theft – (also known as impersonation fraud) is the misappropriation of the identity (such as the name, date of birth, current address or previous addresses) of another person, without his or her knowledge or consent. These identity details are then used to obtain goods and services in that person’s name.
- Identity Fraud – is the use of a misappropriated identity in criminal activity, to obtain goods or services by deception. This usually involves the use of stolen or forged identity documents such as a passport or driving licence.
Avoid Becoming a Victim
You can reduce the risk of your details falling into criminal hands by keeping your personal details to yourself. Here are some tips:
- Treat your personal details as you would a valuable item: as something to be looked after.
- If you use social networking sites, limit the amount of personal information you give away and activate tough privacy settings.
- Only enter your personal details into secure websites (look for https:// at the start of the website address and a closed padlock symbol on your web browser window), belonging to organisations you know and trust.
- Make sure your computer has an up-to-date firewall and is protected by anti-virus and anti-spyware programmes.
- Beware of emails ‘phishing’ for personal details – these often direct you to realistic-looking but fake websites set up to steal your identity.
- Check the credentials of anyone asking for your personal information, whether by phone, face-to-face or over the internet. If in doubt, don’t do it!
- Never share your passwords or PIN numbers with other people.
- If you move home, make sure that you take all steps to ensure the security of your mail.
- Shred any documents that contain your information before you throw them away.
There are some specific steps you can take when using the internet to ensure that your identity remains safe:
- Install up to date anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, an up to date operating system and a firewall.
- Encrypt your wireless network to the highest possible setting – ideally WPA2.
- Block all spam emails and never respond to unsolicited emails.
- Make sure that your passwords for all your accounts are different, and use strong passwords (a mix of numbers and upper and lower case letters) rather than easily guessed details such as names or dates of birth.
- Check and regularly review your social networking privacy settings – and ensure that you only allow the friends in your network access to your profile. Other options could allow strangers to view your information.
- Don’t publish your address, phone numbers, emails, date of birth, place of birth, passport or driving licence numbers anywhere. This includes any sensitive information on friends’ social networking walls.
- Never access any website involving financial details (e.g. banking or shopping) from public wi-fi hotspots and avoid using your smartphone for such transactions.
- When using smartphones, ensure that you use all the handset security features such as passwords and PINs.
CIFAS UKs Fraud Prevention Service