How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

The internet is a fun place, full of information and entertainment and of course, the good and bad people. The security online sites all talk about how to protect your identity and stop your profile being stolen or misused.

The advice is mostly right, but it does not cover the important aspect of sometimes it is vital to have an identity online that is not yours. Think about being a whistle-blower of an organisation and think about someone or some organisation that needs to tell the public about sensitive matters and ideas, and there is no way they can afford to have their original identity used.

In those cases, and in many others, it is understandable to have a fake profile that cannot be attributed to them. These fake profiles allow them to give information out that is in the public good and allows them to continue to do that over a period of time from within organisations.

Perhaps it is a little bit of the social Wikileaks aspect that is now fighting back against governments and large multinational organisations. These people take risks, not for money, but to get the truth out there.

These people need fake online profiles that cannot easily be routed by people that what to shut them up.

Many sites will tell you how to achieve false online profiles, but perhaps the best way is to read how not to have it happen and understand how it can be done.

You may become a victim of identity theft if:

  • you have lost or had important documents such as your passport or driving licence stolen
  • post expected from your bank has not arrived
  • you are receiving no post at all:

You may already be a victim of identity theft if:

  • items have appeared on your bank or credit-card statements that you do not recognise
  • you applied for a state benefit but are told that you are already claiming
  • you receive bills, invoices or receipts addressed to you for goods or services you haven’t
    asked for
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    you have been refused a financial service, such as a credit card or a loan, despite having a
    good credit history
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    a mobile-phone contract has been set up in your name without your knowledge
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    you have received letters from solicitors or debt collectors for debts that aren’t yours

How to protect yourself

Security tips

  • Regularly get a copy of your personal credit file from a credit reference agency to see if it
    includes any entries you do not recognise.
  • Royal Mail offers a redirection service to help prevent identity fraud when you move house.
    Consider asking Royal Mail to redirect any post from your old address to your new one for at
    least a year. You will have to pay a charge for this service.
  • If you move house, also tell your bank, credit-card company and all other organisations that
    you deal with, as soon as possible. To check that your personal details are secure, get a copy
    of your credit file two to three months after moving.
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    Always be careful if other people have access to your post. Contact Royal Mail if you think
    your post is being stolen. Check whether a mail redirection order has been made in your name without your knowledge.

Credit and debit cards

  • Cancel any lost or stolen credit or debit cards immediately. Keep a note of the emergency numbers you should call.
  • Keep your personal information secure when using your card over the phone, on the internet or in shops by making sure that other people cannot overhear you or see your personal information.
  • Look after your personal documents
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    Keep your personal documents in a safe place, preferably in a lockable drawer or cabinet at home.
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    If your passport, driving licence, cards or other personal documents have been lost or stolen, immediately contact the organisation that issued it.
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    Don’t casually throw away documents such as bills, receipts, bank statements or even unwanted post in your name. Destroy unwanted documents, preferably by using a shredder.

If you think you are a victim:

  • Act quickly to investigate your concerns
  • Look at your credit report in detail. If you find entries relating to organisations you do not normally deal with, contact them immediately and keep a record of your actions, including who you spoke to and when and any copies of letters sent and received. The credit reference agencies will help you with this – you will only need to contact one credit reference agency and they will contact the others on your behalf.
  • Consider contacting Cifas – The UK’s Fraud Prevention Service to apply for protective registration if you believe you are a victim of identity fraud or at risk of becoming one. Cifas members will carry out extra checks whenever anyone, including you, applies for a financial service using your address. They do this to make sure that a criminal is not trying to commit fraud by pretending to be you. You will have to pay a charge for this service.
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    Identity fraud involving the use of plastic cards (such as credit- and debit-cards), online banking, or cheques, should be reported directly to the financial institution concerned. They will then be responsible for undertaking further verification and investigation, and, as appropriate, reporting cases of criminal activity to the police where they will be recorded and subsequent investigation considered.