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What is identity theft?

Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal details without your knowledge to obtain credit or commit crime.

“Fraud costs the UK £30bn a year, equal to £621 per adult”
(National Fraud Authority, January 2010)

Why would someone want your identity?

By using your personal details, an identity thief can pretend to be you, applying for credit cards, mobile phone contracts, loans, mortgage, benefits, or buy goods and services on credit – all this without you knowing anything about it!

Identities can also be stolen by organised networks of criminals who use multiple identities to commit fraud and generate money to fund further crimes. Your stolen identity can even be sold on data trading websites – websites specifically set up for buying and selling stolen identities.

“It is estimated that 1 in 8 UK adults has fallen victim to online identity fraud in the past year”(Verisign, September 2009)

Risk Assesssment

How does Identity Theft happen?

There are a number of ways your identity can be stolen:

  • Phishing
    Phishing involves emails sent by fraudsters which look as though they come from a bank, credit card company, or other legitimate organisation, requesting personal details which are then used to obtain credit, empty bank accounts or commit other fraudulent activity.

    “23% of UK internet users said that they, or their close friends and family had been a victim of phishing scams in the last 12 months, compared with just 8% the year before”(Get Safe Online, Feb 09)

  • Change of address
    Whist being an enjoyable (and also sometimes stressful) time in your life, moving home can also increase your risk of identity theft.
    Junk mail causes a particular problem because of our tendency to simply bin or recycle it.
    Pre approved credit cards and loan applications can create a risk if they are picked up by an identity thief as this application is often pre-filled with personal details.

  • Account takeover
    Where your account is accessed and funds are removed or details changed

  • Social networking sites
    More recently, social networking sites such as facebook and twitter have become a haven for criminals seeking to steal identities as people often include personal details as part of their online profile, without even a second thought of these details falling into the wrong hands.

  • Data loss
    In recent years, there have been a number of stories in the news around the loss of data storage devices and laptops containing personal information. This information getting into the wrong hands can be used to steal identities.

  • Bin raiding
    One of the earliest ways to steal an identity was to search through household rubbish for unshredded bills, credit card statements, receipts, basically anything containing personal details which can then be used to commit fraud.

How can help me protect myself from Identity Theft?

Both the stop junk and change of address services help to greatly reduce the risk of identity fraud. By using our stop junk mail service, you can stop potential junk mailers at the source by notifying them to remove your name and address details from any of their mailing lists. When the company receives your stop junk notification through they are then obliged by law not to send you any more junk mail.

When moving home, our change of address service helps fight identity theft by informing organisations that you do not want to hear from that you have moved to a new address, which prevents any mail ending up in the wrong hands.

To give subscribers additional ways to protect their identity, we have partnered with the experts at CPP, the UK leaders in the life assistance market to help you take control of your identity.

Click here to take control of your identity Limited is an introducer appointed representative of First Complete Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FRN:435779) for mortgage and non-investment insurance advice.
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