Are you at risk from identity theft?

Identity fraud – What is identity theft (ID theft)?

Identity theft, otherwise known as ID theft or identity fraud, can affect anyone, but what is identity theft and are you at risk?

Identity fraud is one of the fastest growing crimes around and you could be at risk of identity theft no matter what your income or lifestyle, according to new research by Credit Expert.

Read on for five risk factors for identity theft and tips on how to protect yourself.

Get your credit report with uSwitch

Compare credit reports from different providers to see your credit history and score.

Compare credit reports

Identity theft risk #1 – Renting

The study found that people who live in rented accommodation, like young professionals, single people living in council or housing association flats and graduates are the most at risk from identity theft.

People who rent are around twice as at risk from identity theft, primarily because rented homes often have communal entrances, making it easy for post to fall into the wrong hands, and one bank statement is all a potential fraudster needs to be able to steal your identity.

ID theft risk #2 – Big city living

Living in a big city puts you at risk of identity fraud, so it’s no surprise that London is the nation’s identity theft capital, with its residents almost four times more likely to be targeted than average.

In Scotland, the big city pattern is repeated, with Edinburgh and Glasgow being named as identity theft hotspots.

However, living in the suburbs doesn’t necessarily give you any protection – areas popular with commuters like Slough, Guildford, Windsor, Tunbridge Wells and Oxford are also areas where residents are at a greater risk of identity theft.

CompanyPriceOther information Apply
30 day free trial
£14.99 a month
Freephone UK call-centre
Email & SMS alerts
Proceed
30 day free trial
£7.99 a month
Three credit agency checks
Debt advice centre
Identity theft protection
Proceed
£19.99 One off credit report check
No monthly subscription
Proceed
30 day free trial
£7.99 a month
Unlimited credit report access
Alerts and tools
Support to improve credit rating
Proceed
7 day free trial
£14.99 per month
Daily web monitoring
Instant identity notifications
Unlimited credit report access
Proceed
30 day free trial
£14.95 a month
Weekly alerts
Customer support team
Proceed

Identity fraud risk #3 – Moving house

Moving house and a change of address put you at risk from identity theft, Credit Expert’s research found.

Fraud as a result of forwarding post accounts for around 29% of all cases, so you should always report missing letters to Royal Mail and relevant organisations like your bank and credit card issuer as soon as you notice they’ve gone missing.

If you are moving, protect yourself by getting Royal Mail to redirect your post for at least a year after your move.

It’s important to do this even if you notify your bank, utility companies, credit card issuer etc of your new address – even if something as seemingly insignificant as a catalogue goes missing, the details it could contain (like an account number or credit limit) could lead to problems.

Also, don’t forget to take yourself off the electoral roll at your old address and register to vote at your new home as soon as you can. If you’re not on the electoral roll at the right address, then a criminal could potentially register in your name and use this as proof of residence when applying for credit.

Identity theft risk #4 – Carelessness

Being careless with your personal information could put you at risk of identity theft.

Protect yourself by being very selective about who you share your details with – don’t part with personal information, let alone your financial details, over the phone, via e-mail or on websites if you aren’t 100% sure who you are dealing with.

Also be careful about what details you reveal on social networking sites like Facebook – even something as innocent as mentioning dates of birth, pets and children’s names could give criminals a clue to your PINs and passwords.

Identity theft risk #5 – Not paying attention

In 2008, the majority of people who were victims of identity theft discovered the crime themselves and 63% of these people first found out that their identity had been stolen when they checked their credit report.

Your credit report is a powerful weapon when it comes to cutting your risk of identity theft.

It is contains a list of all your credit accounts, your repayment record and crucially shows recent applications for new credit accounts.

By regularly checking your credit report, you’ll be able to spot any unfamiliar applications or unexplained debts and act quickly.

With a service like Credit Expert from Experian you’ll even get e-mail alerts when new credit applications are made in your name.

CompanyPriceOther information Apply
30 day free trial
£14.99 a month
Freephone UK call-centre
Email & SMS alerts
Proceed
30 day free trial
£7.99 a month
Three credit agency checks
Debt advice centre
Identity theft protection
Proceed
£19.99 One off credit report check
No monthly subscription
Proceed
30 day free trial
£7.99 a month
Unlimited credit report access
Alerts and tools
Support to improve credit rating
Proceed
7 day free trial
£14.99 per month
Daily web monitoring
Instant identity notifications
Unlimited credit report access
Proceed
30 day free trial
£14.95 a month
Weekly alerts
Customer support team
Proceed

Read more…

• Refused credit? – What to do Find out what your next steps are if you’ve been refused credit
• Unused credit cards – Learn about the possible risks behind having too many credit cards
• Get the right credit card for your credit rating – Find out which card is the right match for you