Identity theft – a modern menace

Identity theft is a growing problem worldwide. ID thieves seek to obtain your personal details and use them to commit crime or obtain loans, credit cards etc; the ramifications of which come straight back to you. Identity theft can be perpetrated online or directly through the theft of personal documents such as your passport or driving licence.

Safeguarding personal information from Identity Theft

A popular method used by scammers to obtain your personal information is to send emails to potential victims that purport to be from a bank asking for personal data. Sometimes people even give their bank account password information away, giving the thieves instant access to the victim’s cash. Other methods include bogus phone calls, texts or letters.

 

Safely disposing of personal information to avoid identity theft

Always shred any sensitive documents like bank statements, old utility bills, passports etc. Identity thieves are not averse to rummaging through rubbish bins in search of such documents. If you lose your driver’s licence or passport, always notify the relevant authority straight away – a thief could be using the information to clone your identity.

When you’re out and about using cash machines or working on your laptop or mobile device, beware of ‘shoulder surfers’ who might be looking over your shoulder and noting PIN numbers etc.

Signs that you may have been a victim of identity theft

There are a number of tell-tale signs that your data may have been stolen:

If you stop receiving correspondence or bills, it could be a sign that a criminal has used a different address in place of your own. Receiving credit cards you’ve not applied for or having credit refused for no obvious reason can indicate that your identity has also been stolen.

Visits or calls from debt collection companies about goods or services you haven’t bought could indicate that a thief has placed orders in your name whilst giving a different delivery address. Finding entries on your bank, store card or credit card statements for something you did not buy or order could mean that a thief has bought something online using your financial details.

If you find that you can’t log onto a website, this could be because your password has been changed by a criminal.

What to do if you realise you have been a victim of identity theft

If you think your identity has been stolen or compromised, notify your bank, your credit card company and any companies you have accounts with so that your accounts can be locked.

For more professional help in recovering your personal details and returning your life to normal, contact a good private detective without delay.