Category: identity theft

How to Reclaim Your Identity

There are criminals intent on stealing your identity so they can take-over your accounts, open new accounts in your name, take out loans etc. and everything in your name which means you can be prosecuted by any retailers or other organisations if you don’t pay the bills.

If you find your bank account has been emptied or you are locked out of your accounts or strange charges appear on your mobile phone or calls you get from debt collectors about loans you haven’t taken out,  then you may have had your identity stolen.

Recovering your identity after it’s been stolen can be difficult and stressful.  It is important that you take action immediately as that gives the best chance of stopping the criminal and recovering any money stolen.

  1. Contact the police to report the fraud and get a crime number which is needed for any insurance claims.

You can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or make a report on their web site at actionfraud.police.uk. which also offers advice for victims of identity theft.

  1. If you have reason to think that criminals have accessed your credit card account or bank account then contact your supplier immediate.
  2. If you receive a letter from a debt collector or bailiff, this could mean someone has already been borrowing money in your name. You should contact them to explain the situation and not simply ignore the letters or calls.
  3. If you receive a court summons for non-payment of a bill, then contact the company or court straight away to explain what you think has happened. If you don’t take action right away, it could become very difficult to resolve the issue.
  4. Check your credit report. If you have reason to think that criminals have stolen your personal information, you should check your credit report for signs of unusual activity. This will show if criminals have tried to apply for credit in your name. You can get your credit report from one of the ratings agencies e.g. Experian or Equifax for a couple of pounds.
  5. Consider registering on the Cifas Protective Register. This register tells finance providers to be very careful over any changes to your accounts. They will insist on extra security checks to protect you. This can be beneficial for peace of mind but also makes it difficult for you to make any changes.

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Signs Your Identity Has Been Stolen

If criminals get hold of key information about you, they can impersonate you (steal your identity) and empty your accounts, run up bills in your name, take out loans under your name and you will be liable for the debts incurred unless you can prove it wasn’t you.

Here are some of the warning signs that your identity has been compromised:-

  1. You notice unauthorised transactions on your bank statement. Contact the bank immediately to question the transactions.
  2. You are refused credit or your bank card is refused. Once a criminal has got hold of your personal data, they will try to take out more credit cards in your name and run up big bills.
  3. Unexpected change in your credit report. It’s wise to check your credit report occasionally using an agency such as Experian, Equifax or CallCredit. If you find an unexpected change, this could be a warning as it may mean that criminals have taken out credit in your name.
  4. Unexpected call charges appear on your mobile phone bill. This could mean someone has taken over your account.
  5. You receive delivery of high end items such as a laptop computer or expensive mobile phone. This can happen where a criminal has bought something in your name, intending to intercept the delivery. Check with the sender who placed the order.
  6. You get unexpected emails such as confirmation of password change, confirmation of a new account having been setup, password change request, login details for sites you don’t know, registration details using your name that you haven’t applied for.
  7. You are contacted by a debt collector or bailiff looking to recover a debt in your name. Do not ignore this as being simply a mistake.

If you suspect you have been attacked by identity thieves, you need to take action right away.

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How to Recognise a Hacked Email Account

If your normal flood of emails stops abruptly and you know emails you expected have not arrived the maybe someone else has taken over your email account. But, it could easily be that your email provider is having problems and the emails will turn on again.

It’s best to know what the situation is, so do contact your supplier first to check if the problem is at their end.

If your email account has been hacked, then you may see the following signs:-

  • Your mail account is sending spam messages to your contacts
  • Your email provider warns you of suspicious attempts to login to your account
  • Your account details or mail settings have been changed without your knowledge

If you think your account has been hacked – try to change the password. If you can do that, then your email account is probably fine.

Check your Mail settings

Depending on which email service and software you use, the following options may or may not be available to you.

  • mail filters
  • Sending name
  • Email signature
  • Reply-to address
  • Vacation response
  • Default sending address
  • Auto Forwarding of all emails

Hackers may change the settings in your Yahoo Mail account to disrupt your inbox or get copies of your emails. Access your mail settings and make sure none of your info or preferences were changed without your knowledge.

  1. Your password has been changed

Having control over an email account enables the fraudster to read any emails you haven’t deleted and cleared from your email bin. That’s why it’s important you don’t share or store sensitive or personal information on your email server.”

Having a secondary email address or extra verification measures in place helps prevent a hacker from locking you out of your own account.

  1. Unusual inbox activity

Some hackers won’t change your password so you won’t notice that anything’s wrong.

One way to determine if this is the case is to look at your sent mail folder and see if there are messages there that you are confident that you didn’t send. If you find some, then you know a spammer probably has access to your account.

Also watch for password reset emails that you have not instigated. The hacker may have tried to change your password on other sites, using access to your email to perform password resets.

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Means of Identity Theft

Scams reported to the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) involving identity theft or the loss of personal/banking information have cost Australians at least $16 million in 2018 year and this figure is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Four in 10 Scamwatch reports to ACCC in 2019 involve attempts to gain information or the actual loss of victims’ information.

“If you think scammers might have gained access to your personal information, even in a scam completely unrelated to your finances, immediately contact your bank,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

The most common ways scammers obtain personal or banking information are:

  • phishing emails and text messages which impersonate banks or utility providers seeking your login and password details
  • fake online quizzes and surveys
  • fake job advertisements
  • remote access scams in which the scammer has direct access to everything on your computer
  • sourcing information about you from social media platforms
  • direct requests for scans of your driver’s license or passport, often in the course of a dating and romance scam

“No one is really selling an iPhone for $1 or rewarding the completion of a survey with expensive electronic goods or large gift vouchers. They are scams to get your confidential information,” Ms Rickard said.

With the information, scammers can empty their victim’s bank accounts and take out tens of thousands of dollars in bank loans under victims’ names.

Lost personal information also leaves victims more susceptible to future scams as scammers will use the  information to seem more convincing in cold calls to perpetrate further scams.

If you have any experiences with identity theft do let me know, by email.

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Rise in Identity Theft in Over-60s

Identity theft is where a criminal gets personal information on someone and pretends to be that person so they can take out credit cards, bank accounts, loan agreements etc. in that person’s name.

Identity thieves generally don’t care about the age of their targets as long as they are over 18 (so they buy alcohol etc. with the fake identity) but increasingly the over-60s age group are being targeted.

In the first half of 2018, there were more than 14 thousand reports of identity theft in those aged 60 and above. The total number of identity theft cases in that time was over 80 thousand.

There are more and more people over 60 accessing the Internet so this makes it easier for criminals to find such targets.

And it may be that over-60s are more trusting and less familiar with the dangers of the Internet so don’t take the necessary steps to protect themselves as they should.

Be careful about giving away your private information e.g. name, address, email address, date of birth, bank details etc.

Be equally careful about callers claiming to be from an organisation you deal with e.g. water company, Internet provider, local government, local bank etc.

If in doubt, check the genuine phone number and call them to verify the situation.

Got to https://fightback.ninja/test/one-third-of-people-fail-on-basic-security-do-you/ for more advice on personal security.

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