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Identity Fraud and Paper Shredders

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Identity Fraud and Paper Shredders

What is identity theft?

Learn what ID fraud actually is

Criminals steal your personal details and use them to open bank accounts, get credit cards, take out loans, claim state benefits, even to get a mortgage and obtain documents such as passports and driving licences in your name. You may be liable for whatever actions they take; this can ruin your credit rating and seriously damage your reputation.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing types of fraud in Europe. Bin Raiding, fraudsters rummaging through your rubbish, is the main source of information for identity fraudsters. Many victims of identity fraud do not discover their identity has been stolen until over a year later.

Identity fraudsters are able to obtain your information in a number of different ways. Being aware of how thieves gather your personal information can help you to protect yourself.

  • Bin Raiding: Rummaging through your rubbish.
  • Stealing personal items from your home e.g. passports.
  • Stealing your personal mail, ie: bank statements and credit card information.
  • Computer hacking.
  • Completing a change or address form to redirect your post to a different address.

Your identity is precious, let's protect it.

Frightening statistics

  • In 2005 there were more than 100,000 victims of ID fraud in the UK.
  • ID Fraud is the UK's fastest growing white collar crime.
  • ID Fraud costs the UK £1.7bn per year.
  • It takes the average victim over 300 hours of stress and worry to put their records straight after their identity has been stolen.
  • In 2005 it was estimated that card related identity fraud cost the UK economy £439m.
  • 41% of PC users don't have an active firewall (source APACS).

Being aware

Be on the look out

You may have become a victim of identity theft if:

  • You have lost or had stolen any important documents such as passports of driving licence.
  • Post you are expecting has failed to turn up or if you are receiving no post at all.
  • Items have appeared on your bank statements that you do not recognise.
  • You applied for a state benefit to be tNEW that you are already claiming.
  • You receive bills, invoices or receipts for goods and services that are addressed but that you have not asked for.
  • You have been refused a financial service, such as a credit card or loan, despite having a good credit history.
  • A mobile phone contract has been set up in your name without your knowledge.
  • You have received letters from solicitors or debt collectors for debts that aren't yours.

What can be done to protect yourself.

  • Never disclose your credit, charge or cash card PIN number to anyone.
  • Never respond to anyone for a request from a supposed Bank or other authority requesting confirmation of your PIN, your personal information or the security code. Your bank or the police will never ask you to disclose your PIN.
  • Make sure your computer has an up to date anti virus software and firewall installed.
  • Keep all your personal documents in a safe place, preferably in a lockable drawer.
  • Check statements as soon as they arrive. Contact your bank if there are any transactions that you do not recognise.
  • Most importantly, never casually throw away documents such as bills, bank statements, receipts or any unwanted post in your name. Always shred unwanted documents using a Paper Shredder.


Are you already a victim?

What to do it you think you are a victim

  • Act quickly to make sure that you are not liable for financial losses caused by criminals using your identity.
  • Report lost or stolen documents, such as passports, driving licences, credit cards and cheque books to the organisation that issued them.
  • Consider contacting the 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, once you have registered, 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.
  • If someone fraudulently opened an account in your name, contact the company concerned immediately.
  • Contact your bank or credit-card company to report suspicious transactions on your statement.
  • Get a copy of your personal credit file and report any suspicious entries. Report the matter to your local police and ask for a crime reference number.

Links and Resources

CIFAS Identity Fraud Leaflet

How to beat the bin raiders

ID theft leaflet

Protect yourself against identity theft guide

Protecting Your ID booklet

Scambusters leaflet

Secrets and Shredders

Sterling Leaflet


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