10 steps to protect yourself against identity fraud
1. Check your bank statements on a regular basis. CIFAS found that while 94% of people think they are at risk from ID fraud, only 44% regularly check their bills and bank statements for rogue entries.
But doing this is essential if you want to spot fraud early. Research by Experian has found that it currently takes an average of 14 months for ID fraud to come to the victim's attention.
2. If you're expecting a replacement credit/debit card or online banking username/password in the post but they don't arrive, alert your financial services provider immediately.
3. Check your personal credit record with a credit reference agency, such as Experian, Equifax or CallCredit. Query and challenge any credit applications you don't recognise.
4. Make sure you shred sensitive documents containing financial details before throwing them away.
5. Install the latest antivirus and firewall software on all your computers and ensure the 'automatic updates' setting is on.
6. Set the privacy settings on your social networking sites to maximum and be very careful not to reveal too much personal data in status updates and posts.
Carry out periodic reviews of your online 'friends' and 'contacts', and consider deleting those you don't know personally or well. Did you add some people as your 'friends' without thinking?
7. If you move home, always ask Royal Mail to redirect your post for at least six months.
8. Consider taking your name off the edited electoral register so your details can't be sold on to third parties.
9. Protect your mobile phone and SIM card with a PIN in case your phone falls into the wrong hands.
10. Report any suspicious activity or fraud to actionfraud.org.uk or call 0300 123 2040.
Issued by a bank as part of a current account and, in a nutshell, serves as electronic cash. Unlike a credit or charge card, where you get an interest-free period before you have to settle the bill, the funds spent on a debit card are withdrawn immediately from your current account. Unless you’ve arranged an overdraft, if you don’t have the cash in the account, you can’t spend it.