(Free Press Release)
Fraud committed by a criminal who has stolen someone else‘s identity is identity fraud usually used online and some boiler room management scams. By stealing documents such as your passport, driving license or bank statements - or online ID, such as usernames, passwords and personal security questions - thieves can now take cash from your accounts, commit benefit fraud, or take out new credit cards or loans, all in your name. Online frauds that sucker victims into revealing crucial private data, known as ´phishing‘ scams, are becoming more common. But for most people, the greater danger still lies in more old-fashioned methods: burglars who steal documents and chequebooks; fraudsters who intercept your post; and even thieves who dredge through bin bags.
Shaw Capital will give you tips on how big is the problem nowadays on online scams and fraud. In the UK, more than 70,000 people were victims last year, according to figures from the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance Service (CIFAS). Given the large number of cases, the sums involved are hardly huge - the Association for Payment Clearing Services puts the total taken by identity fraudsters last year at £37m, but this is a 66% jump on the previous year. However, they calculate the overall cost to the economy - including the time and money spent by banks in combatting the crime - is a massive £1.3bn.
Caution is the key. Shaw Capital and its management always emphasize to read bank and credit-card statements carefully and check against receipts. If you have any worries, tell the bank concerned straightaway; scammers often test the water with a small transaction first before attempting a larger theft. Check your credit report often for any credit requests not made by you. Shred statements, bills and even direct mail; these all contain vital personal information. Register with the Mailing Preference Service (0845-703 4599, www.mpsonline.org.uk) to stop junk mail and get mail redirected when you move home. Leave all unnecessary credit cards and ID at home when you go out, but do not leave key documents together in one place easily accessible to a burglar. Use different PINs and passwords for different accounts, and never disclose your full PIN or password in an e-mail or over the phone, even if you think you are talking to a bank employee.
Report the suspected crime to the police and ask for a crime reference number, which you will need to recover any losses. Also, spend £11.75 on the protective registration service offered by fraud prevention service CIFAS (0870-010 2091, www.cifas.org.uk). They will place a notice on your credit file warning banks and lenders that there‘s an increased risk of identity fraud. Companies will then seek extra verification from anyone applying for credit in your name. Impersonation of the dead is the fastest-growing type of identity theft, so take this into account when dealing with a relative‘s death and estate: immediately notify the relevant Government departments, such as the Department of Work and Pensions and the Inland Revenue, and return important documents by registered delivery.