How to recognise and prevent identity fraud

Here at Consumer Rights  we understand that identity fraud occurs thousands of times a year, both on the internet and in ‘real life’. You can lose thousands of pounds or be regarded as a scammer and defaulter. Read how the criminals work and study these tips on how to prevent identity theft.

How does identity theft happen?

Some criminals shop at multiple stores and have another person pay the bill. They then use his or her data. Criminals misuse the citizen service number, date of birth and address. What aggravates the problem: you have to identify yourself less and less in person at the counter, more often this happens from a distance. For example, taking out a telephone subscription or bank account online with a copy of your proof of identity. This increases the risk of identity fraud. A scammer in these cases, only needs a copy of your ID. The police receives many hundreds of reports every year of similar or the same cases. In some cases, the consequences of identity fraud are far-reaching. For example, if criminals manage to take out loans in your name or rent a property, the bailiff or police can suddenly be at your door. It can take years before your name is cleared.

What tricks do criminals use to get your ID?

Identity fraud via sales sites such as different second-hand shop websites,  fraudsters offer things that are wanted, such as popular telephones and tickets for concerts and festivals. They ask for a copy of your ID; supposedly to know for sure who they are dealing with. Sometimes they also send their ‘own’ ID, to inspire confidence. That is a previously captured copy. At the beginning of 2017, 3 criminals were arrested who allegedly ripped off 2500 people. Non-existent vacancies on job sites, where they ask for a copy of your identity document or a payslip. Always check the company name.

Fraudsters take mail out of your mailbox

For example, they can request a bank account at your own address and still receive the corresponding bank card.Hackers try to break into your accounts, for example your e-mail, in order to capture data. Sometimes public data can also be misused on social media.

Tips to prevent identity fraud

Never send a copy or photo of proof of identity to a buyer or seller online, not even after he or she has done so. If a copy of the proof of identity is required, make it useless: write the date and purpose on it and cross out what is not needed (often the social security number). Use strong passwords, one different for each account. If necessary, use a password manager as an aid. Do not keep copies of identity data (such as passport and pay slip) in your mailbox or unsecured on the computer. Regularly check your bank account for unknown debits. For transactions on websites: check whether someone has been active for a longer time and do the account number check with the police.

Signs of identity fraud

The following signals may indicate abuse of your identity data: -You receive letters from lawyers or collection agencies and bailiffs about debts that you do not know about. -You receive invoices or acknowledgment of receipt addressed to you for goods or services, but you did not order this. -There are expenses on your bank statements or credit card statements that you do not recognise. -Your usual bills and statements are no longer delivered. -You discover that your personal details have changed at the government. -You cannot get a loan because there is an alert in your name. -You see 1 or more unknown employers on pension or tax statements. -It can also happen that people on social media accuse you of scams. Criminals often use your identity to scam others, making them think that you are the scammer. Check out the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, Action Fraud for more information:

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