Five ID fraudsters to avoid
By Nicolette Loizou
Last updated October 10 2005
To help consumers protect themselves against identity theft, CreditExpert from Experian, the UK’s only online credit monitoring and identity fraud prevention service, has compiled a guide to identity thieves in all their fraudster guises
1. The Phisherman
‘Phishermen’ trick people into revealing their personal details (such as their passwords or credit card numbers) by imitating reputable websites. This is known as ‘phishing’.
To be safe online:
*Use only secure websites for online shopping (they have https in the address when you access them) and look for the padlock symbol
*Set your browser to maximum security level
*Don’t give out your card details just to register with a site
*Look out for emails requesting personal information, even if they appear to come from organisations you know and trust – they are always scams.
*Use different passwords and usernames for different sites
*Be wary of internet sites with too good to be true offers – they might be bogus sites looking to gather personal information about you in order apply for credit in your name. See www.cardwatch.org
for more information.
2. The Squatter
Previous address fraud is one of the most common methods of identity theft. If you move house, make sure you redirect your post as soon as you move (get a form from your local Post Office). Don’t make it easy for the new occupants to use information in any post addressed to you to steal your identity.
Register your name at your old address with the Mailing Preference Service (www.mpsonline.org.uk
). This will help make sure that no direct mail will go to your previous address and, therefore, cannot be intercepted.
3. The Bin Raider
Last year Experian revealed that one in five bins contained enough information to steal an identity.
Bin raiding, where crooks scavenge through our rubbish for any discarded documents like utility bills, credit card receipts or bank statements, is now an organised business with criminal gangs paying up to £5 a document found containing personal information - if just a name and address.
Consumers can protect themselves against bin raiders by completely destroying personal information before throwing it away, preferably by using a document shredder (you can buy inexpensive shredders from most stationery shops).
4. The Jackal
The identities of 1,500 people who have died are taken over by criminals each week in the UK, according to figures from the UK's fraud prevention service CIFAS.
When a relative dies, don’t put too much information in the death notice in the newspaper. If you are the executor of the will or has power of attorney, get a copy of the deceased person's credit report and let the credit reference agencies know of the death. Make sure you notify every company your relative has had dealings with so they do not continue to send mail in the post.
5. The Cold Caller
Be careful about disclosing personal or financial information to people who cold call you, even if they claim to be from your bank, your credit company or another official organisation. Phone the organisation back with the number you have for them, not the number the caller has given you.
Never reply to e-mails asking for personal information – banks and other organisations, such as PayPal or eBay, do not collect details in this way. If you do suspect foul play, obtain your credit report immediately.
How to beat the fraudsters
To protect yourself from potential identity theft, subscribe to CreditExpert (www.creditexpert.co.uk
). CreditExpert is the UK’s only real-time online credit monitoring service. Members receive e-mail or SMS text alerts when any significant change is made to their credit report, which immediately lets them know of any applications for credit that have been made in their name. CreditExpert is a new service from Experian, the UK’s largest credit reference agency and leading provider of fraud prevention services.