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Identity Protection - How To Prevent Identity Theft

Updated on April 15, 2013

Simple Measures To Protecting Your Identity From The Risks Of Theft And Fraud

Having your identity or personal details stolen is a worrying problem which is on the increase, so it is essential to protect them as much as possible. The chances of falling victim to having your details stolen and used for criminal activities can be limited by keeping a close eye on all your personal information, being careful who has access to it and keeping copies of personal details to a minimum. Our personal details are valuable and as more and more criminals are targeting our personal information, to enable them to steal our details and use them to commit identity fraud, we need to steps to protect our identity and stop our personal details from getting into the wrong hands.

These are simple actions that can be taken that will limit and reduce your chances of being a victim of identity theft:

Check your bank statements and statements from your credit card provider. Don't just look at the amounts, go through each item and make sure you recognise the company or person the payment went to. Become familiar with how your statement looks each month, so you can easily recognise the monthly bills and spending patterns and pick out more easily something that doesn't look right. Query any transactions you don’t recognise straight away.

Shred bank statements, and any papers with personal information on, before you discard them. Shredders are relatively cheap to buy and, compared to the cost of having your identity stolen, priceless! Choose a crosscut shredder which cuts the paper into little squares, making it much harder to piece back together.

Keep track of your documents and bills
Keep track of your documents and bills | Source

Keep an eye on your bills and know when each one should arrive. If you notice one is missing, it could mean it has been intercepted by a fraudster.

Limit the number of credit cards you have to make it easier to keep a track on them. If you no longer use a particular card, don’t just leave it, cancel it. If you’re not using it, the chances are you’ll be less aware if its details have been stolen. Also, only carry the minimum amount of cards needed with you. The more you carry, the greater the risk if they get lost or stolen.

Keep your details to yourself and don’t write pin codes and passwords down. Never give your details to anyone who contacts you saying they are calling from a particular company. Only give your details to the bank, business or other if you have made the call and can be certain it is them you have called. Make sure website pages are secure and avoid using links to websites that may have been set up by scammers.

Keep track of your credit rating by using a credit rating agency. In the UK there are three main credit rating agencies, Experian, Callcredit and Equifax. For a small fee, you will receive a report showing your credit activity, for example the credit cards you have applied for, and you can see if there has been any activity in your name but not done by you.

It may seem tedious and time consuming to follow this advice but it's a small price to pay compared to the stress, worry, time consumed and potential money lost if your personal details are stolen and used for fraudulent purposes. These are, in practice, simple and easy ways to protect your identity. By being vigilant and keeping tight control of your details you will better safeguard yourself from the risk of the growing trend in identity theft.

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Useful tip

The compost bin is the perfect place to put shredded paper.

Which shredder?

Cutter type. The most important part of the shredder is the cutter type. This will determine the shape of shredded paper it produces. Cutters that produce strips of paper are the original type. These are adequate but it is possible for these strips to be stuck back together.A second generation of shredders are available that are much better in reducing documents into small pieces which are very difficult to put back together. These are called cross cut shredders. This type of shredder cuts the paper into tiny squares which are much harder to piece together than paper strips.

Cutting size. As well as the type of cut, the size of each cut piece can vary from one shredder to another. The smaller the size the better as, similar to type of cut, the size will determine how difficult it would be to stick the documents back together.

Collection bin. The size of the collection bin on the shredder can vary in size. If you have a lot of documents to shred on a regular basis, it’s better to choose a large bin to reduce the frequency of emptying it. Make sure the size is appropriate for the place in the house or office you want to store the shredder.More expensive machines will be able to shred paper with stables, saving the hassle of having to remove them each time.

Power. Some shredders are powerful enough to cut up credit cards and CDs. Also, the amount of papers that can be shredded in one go differs between machines. If you have large shredding requirements, choose a model that can handle multiple sheets at a time.


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