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Identity Fraud 

Ask yourself these following questions:

Do you really shred/burn everything with your address on?

No, well 78% of all identity frauds are committed using the victim’s current address! Don’t just throw away your details, putting it in the recycling bin does not mean it is disposed of, Shred or burn anything with your details on, for your own peace of mind if nothing else.

Do you ever log on to free public Wi-Fi, not knowing exactly where it comes from?

Yes? (I have done it) it’s a very simple way for fraudsters to gain any personal details for you How? they sit in a café, set up a free Wi-Fi (normally in the name of the café e.g. StarbucksFreeWIFI) and then wait for the unsuspecting punters to log on and voila they have access to all info on your laptop/mobile and even scarier if you use online banking while on the network they have instant access to your accounts or imagine the information they will have access to if it is a work laptop you are using.

Do you always update personal information with each company that holds records for you?

This is a dream for an identity fraudster, it’s so easy to use someone’s previous information if it is not updated and even better for the fraudster if the victim doesn’t even know it is being used and how would you, if all the correspondence/information is going to an old address.

How open are you? Have you ever had a phone call asking you for your personal details?

Of course you have, nearly everyone I know has had at least one phone call from a scammer trying to obtain personal details. Some are obvious but some are not so obvious and it is these ones that you need to be aware of. Fraudsters are making calls and asking, "Can you hear me?" If you answer with "yes," your answer is recorded and may be used by the scammer to authorise bogus charges on a credit card or a phone or utility bill, they use questions that will give them the answer they need to get through your security checks. Other variations on the scam include asking other yes/no questions like "Are you the person responsible for paying the telephone bill?" and "Are you the homeowner?"

The rise of technology eg voice recognition authorisation means scams to obtain your ID are becoming harder to spot and easier to fall into before it’s too late because who would have thought a simple ‘yes’ would give access to accounts (ok – so not just a yes but they already have all of the other information that is needed eg account numbers and details). Scams making the rounds highlight the danger of responding to those kinds of calls - even if you think you're getting the upper hand by leading the conversation or winding them up (as I’m sure a few of have done from time to time) but be careful!! My advice to you is if someone calls you and asks a strange/out of the normal question hang-up! Simple as that, just hang up. If it is important you will know about it, they will leave a message or contact you by other means. Check the number they called you on, a very simple Google search will do the job and if it is important call them back on a number you know is correct. If you feel you must respond, consider answering with a question like, "Who is calling?" and give as little away as possible. If you believe that the call is not legitimate, don't be afraid to hang up: it's not impolite to hang up on a scammer.

This video shows just how easy it is to get your details from day to day activity! Data and Go

Do you know what details your family are giving away freely?

Do you have children, siblings or other young family members? Do they have a smart phone/ tablet/ Ipad or any sort of access to the internet? Are you aware of what details and information they are supplying on a daily basis? You could be the most secure, identity fraud aware person in the world as an individual but all it takes is one lapse in the family unit to provide all information that is needed to assist fraudsters in their quest to scam you. Kids are especially a weakness. From freely supplying details and addresses to sign up for that super cool new game to using unrestricted Wi-Fi while out and about and everything in between. Make sure your children/family are cyber aware and aware of the importance of protecting their identity. They are the adults of the future if fraudsters can build profiles for them now then they can easily be used in the future, the longer they have to build the profile the more robust that profile will be and less questions will be asked. Victims of impersonation that are under the age of 21 has risen by a shocking 34% this year alone. Fraudsters are always on the move, on the hunt for their next trick, expanding their target pool and focusing on the identities of the younger generations. Information from young people grows in value as earnings rise and people take on more financial products. Accumulating these details now is an investment in the fraud of tomorrow as today's complacency is tomorrow’s nightmare.

Cifas has been leading work with Government through the efforts of the Home Office-led Joint Fraud Task force to establish fraud and financial crime education as part of the National Curriculum. The findings of the fraudscape report serve to illustrate just how vital this initiative would be in safeguarding the future of a large number of young people. However there is no reason that best practice shouldn’t start at home right now

The age old question, how secure is your password?

Just under a third of people use the same password for multiple accounts and slightly more admitted to writing them down, it clearly demonstrates people are being complacent and are of the belief that their personal information won’t be at risk. The majority also thought that it is the over 60s that are most at risk of identity fraud, but the reality is that ID fraud is an indiscriminate crime that affects all ages in the UK irrespective of where they live or how much they earn. Everyone is vulnerable – so everyone needs to be vigilant. There is a Jimmy Kimmel video that makes for an interesting watch about just how easy it is to obtain password information from a total stranger in just one conversation, have a watch and see what you think, it’s very light hearted, but just think if you had your password written down ANYWHERE they wouldn’t even need to go to the trouble of asking anything. Even better if all your passwords are the same, after one conversation they would have access to almost your entire life and identity. Jimmy Kimmel video.

Be sure to follow my blog for next week’s instalment and sadly my final week – How to protect yourself from identity fraud In the meantime follow us on twitter and keep up to date with all the latest news and information.

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