Do you have a spare 400 hours and £8000? That’s the estimate from CIFAS and Which? for what it could cost you to clear up difficulties arising from identity fraud or theft.
Between January and September of 2007, there were 57,302 incidents of identity fraud reported to CIFAS, the UK's fraud prevention service. The Home Office estimates that identity fraud costs the UK economy about £1.7 billion a year.
Now, one of the UK’s leading insurers is doing something about it. Direct Line recently announced that it is providing free Identity Fraud Assistance for both new and existing customers who purchase home contents and buildings cover together.
Any Direct Line customer who has taken out a policy since 7th January 2008 is covered by the new service for free. If they are the victim of identity fraud, they can call the Identity Fraud Assistance Line and get a referral to the Victim of Fraud Team. The team will then help them through the necessary steps to resolve their case so they can get on with their lives.
Direct Line is working with Experian, one of the biggest credit reporting agencies, giving customers access to their credit reports so that they can spot any suspicious activities. Once they’ve reported suspicious activity, the Fraud team will investigate and correct any problems with their credit report.
While having access to this type of assistance is a great bonus for Direct Line customers, nothing beats prevention. CIFAS and Direct Line offer these top tips to help everyone avoid becoming a victim of identity fraud in the first place.
- Safeguard your identity as carefully as you do your physical belongings. Your good name should be your most valued possession – treat it that way.
- Check your bank and credit card statements as soon as they are issued and inform the provider immediately if you notice any suspicious or unusual transactions.
- Check your credit file regularly for errors or suspicious activity.
- Don’t just throw away bank statements and credit card bills. Before you dispose of any document that has your personal details on it, run it through a cross-cut shredder. An identity thief doesn’t need much to establish your identity – avoid giving it to them.
- Don’t be baited by phishers. Always be wary when unsolicited emails or phone callers request your personal information. Don’t give out personal details over the telephone or through email.
- If you use online banking services, or pay for things online, always make sure that you are entering your personal information on a legitimate website. Never click on a link in an email to go to your bank or other online financial accounts.
- NEVER share your PIN or password details with anyone.
- If you move home, ensure your bank and other financial providers are updated with your new address immediately. Use a postal redirection service to ensure your personal documents aren't going to your old address.
- Close any accounts you no longer require.
- Don't use your mother's maiden name as a password reminder question as it can be easily discovered.