There were 89,000 identity theft cases in the UK in the first 6 months of 2017 where thieves used identity theft to obtain products or services, with the majority happening online. This 5% rise on last year’s figures has made for a new record high.
According to the BBC, people aged between 31 and 40 are the group most likely to become victims of identity theft. Wealthy couples are another frequently targeted demographic for identity theft with research showing they are particularly likely to be targeted for credit card fraud or fraudulent loan applications.
As well as being wealthy targets, affluent people are at greater risk of identity theft due to being more exposed. They tend to have a larger number of accounts, be incredibly busy, and have a lot of people around them, making them vulnerable to phishing attempts and social engineering.
Preventing identity theft requires a combination of online and physical security measures. Follow our tips to make sure you are safe:
- Never divulge private information in response to a request via an email or website, unless you are certain the request is from a legitimate source.
- Use a password that contains a numeric, alphabet and symbol and change it regularly.
- Avoid sharing too much personal information on social media. Be wary of phishing scams.
- Avoid using shared public PCs to access internet banking.
- Only use reputable websites to purchase goods/services.
- Securely file sensitive documents, and shred those no longer needed.
- Arrange for paperless bills and statements where possible.
- Redirect mail when you move home.
- Be aware of people who may be looking over your shoulder when entering passwords or PINs into a computer or ATM.
- When travelling, lock passports, driving licences and other items of identification in a safe when they are not required.
If you discover you have been a victim of identity theft, it is vital to act quickly to limit the damage by reporting it to the police, your bank, and immediately changing you passwords on all websites and accounts.