Your identity is one of your most precious possessions. Apart from defining you as an individual, it also proves that you really are you.
As well as needing it for everyday tasks like buying online, banking and social networking, it is also essential for signing up for phone contracts, loans, mortgages and other finance… and without it, you can’t obtain driver’s licences, passports or other official documents.
When a criminal steals your identity, they can claim that they really are you too – and do all of these things in your name. They can also sell on your identity to other criminals, and even commit criminal acts in your name.
That’s why it’s vital to protect your identity against theft. Identity thieves most commonly work online, often taking advantage of the information you over-share on social media, or a weak email account password. However, they can also use printed documents that haven’t been shredded or securely filed.
To safeguard your identity, start by following GSO’s simple, expert Top Tips:
- Never share account information with friends, family or other people.
- Be careful about the information you share on social media, such as date of birth and family/pets’ names you also use in your passwords. Never post images of your passport, driver’s licence, NI number or other confidential items.
- Never divulge private information data in response to an email, text, letter, phone call or web form unless you’re certain that the request is authentic. Call to check on the number you know to be correct.
- Have up-to-date security software/apps running on your computer and mobile devices. Update software and apps when prompted.
- Choose strong passwords and keep them safe. Don’t use one password for more than one account.
- Take care when using public Wi-Fi hotspots: Your information may not be secure.
- Always beware – of people looking over your shoulder when you’re entering private information on a computer, mobile device, or ATM.
- Arrange for paperless bills and statements instead of printed ones.
- File sensitive documents securely, and shred those you no longer need – preferably with a cross-cut shredder.
- Get regular credit reports to check if anybody has taken out finance in your name.
For more information on protecting your identity – Please visit www.getsafeonline.org, and click on ‘Protecting Yourself’ and then select ‘Preventing Identity Theft’