Unfortunately, identity fraud can happen to each and every one of us. Identity theft occurs when a malicious actor steals your personal information such as your date of birth, name, address and banking details.
Being a victim of identity fraud can have serious consequences. Whilst it is possible to regain stolen funds or clear your name, the emotional trauma and worry can have long-term damage. From maxing out bank cards, leaving you liable for debts/fines or committing non-financial crimes, there is a wide range of ways you could be exploited, therefore, it is essential to be aware of the different types of identity fraud and how to protect yourself.
Driver’s license fraud:
This form of fraud occurs when your driving information is stolen and a criminal license themselves under your identity. The criminal may then commit various traffic violations and as a result, you may lose your license and be ordered to pay the outstanding fines.
Financial identity theft:
When a criminal steals your personal information they are then able to take over your financial accounts or even create their own. This form of identity fraud can cause large financial loses and the effects may take a long time to rectify, often resulting in large debt or a poor credit score.
Employment identity theft:
An individual may use your stolen personal details to obtain employment. By using your details, the individual is then able to hide their real personal identity from employers.
Change of address fraud:
Fraudsters will sometimes change your mailing address and divert it to themselves. This will then give them access to your mail and consequently they are able to find information such as your bank and credit card details.
So how does identity fraud happen and how do you protect yourself…
One of the main methods used to gain access to your personal information is phishing; a common email scam. Phishing occurs when a cybercriminal poses as a legitimate organisation, for example, a bank or HMRC, and prompts you to enter your personal information. It is vital to remember that if an email requests details like your name, card details, address and banking information, then you should simply ignore it, not click any links and register it as spam.
Another common method is hacking. Organisations will have systems in place to prevent cybercriminals from accessing their systems, but everyone once in a while, a hacker may break through and steal personal details. In this event, you will receive a message to warn you of the cyber breach – always remember to check directly with the company before reacting to the message. Once confirmed, take the appropriate steps to close any cards that may be affected.
Take the Take Five test to see if you can spot fraud and know when it’s time to say ‘My money? My info? I don’t think so’