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Fraudsters can use your identity in a number of ways, from attempting to access your existing bank and savings accounts, to opening up new accounts with credit cards, loan providers or even catalogues in your name. You may not be aware of fraudsters’ activity until it is too late and you are left with crippling debts.
However, there are a number of ways in which you can reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim:
1. Periodically review your credit file
Checking your credit file on a regular basis will highlight any unusual activity for you to repair any damage before it escalates. Statutory credit reports are available from Equifax, Experian and Callcredit UK, at a one-off cost of £2 and will not adversely affect your credit score.
You can also subscribe to receive enhanced online credit reports, detailing your credit file and any alerts of credit applications through ClearScore or Noddle, both of which are free. CreditExpert also provides a detailed monthly service but with a fee payable. Please check the terms and conditions of all of the providers before applying.
2. Request to move money
A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account. Only give out your personal or financial details to a service to which you have consented, that you trust and are expecting to be contacted by.
3. Personal Information
Always question uninvited approaches, whether on the telephone, via email or in person, in case they are a scam. Instead of responding, contact the company directly yourself using a known email or telephone number.
If you are concerned that your personal details may have been stolen, you can apply to CIFAS – the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance Service who, for a small fee, aim to protect your credit file and stop fraudsters using your personal details. A warning flag is added to your credit file and all credit applications are subject to a strict verification process, which may delay the time it takes for credit applications to complete, such as a few days rather than instant online approval. However, it does provide peace of mind, which is more valuable than the delay to the application. The cost is currently £20 for two years https://www.cifas.org.uk/services/identity-protection/protective-registration
Further information on what you can do to protect yourself against identity theft can be found at Action Fraud https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/resources
Church House always verifies our clients whenever requests are made to withdraw funds from portfolios or changes made to bank account details. Where we have any doubt over the identity of a client, we will request written confirmation. Fortunately, because we know our clients, their voices and their habits so well, this is rarely necessary. But we are occasionally contacted by nefarious individuals purporting to be our clients, usually having hacked into said client’s email system. So we have to be just as wary.
Personal knowledge of our clients is actually their greatest safeguard against fraud but we also have checks in place which have so far, despite not infrequent attempts, helped them avoid being hoodwinked.