Financial crime is a real threat to all of us and it is worth considering how you can protect yourself and your business.
While technological developments speed up communication and bring the benefits of online statements and transactions, they have also led to increased cyber-crime activity.
Additional security checks
We all now face stringent checks relating to our identity for many financial transactions and while these additional security questions may sometimes be irritating and increase the time it takes for transactions, it is better this than risk becoming a victim of financial crime.
Be alert to the risk of identity theft
Your identity is one of your most valuable assets and, if compromised, the subsequent fraud could lead to serious financial consequences, difficulties getting loans, credit cards or a mortgage and require a great deal of time and effort putting the situation right.
We advise that you remain alert to the following signs of identity theft:
- You have lost or have documents such as your passport or driving licence stolen
- Mail from your bank or utility provider doesn’t arrive
- Items that you don’t recognise appear on your bank or credit card statement
- You receive bills or receipts for goods or services you haven’t asked for
- You are refused financial services, credit cards or a loan despite having a good credit rating
- You receive letters in your name from solicitors or debt collectors for debts that aren’t yours.
Reduce the risk
Take these measures to reduce the risk of identity theft:
- Store documents with your personal information, such as, your passport, driving licence, bank statements, utility bills or credit card transaction receipts in a secure place
- Shred or destroy old documents featuring your name, address or personal details
- Monitor your credit report and regularly check your credit card and bank statements for suspicious activity
- When you move house, contact Royal Mail to redirect your post and inform your bank, credit and store card providers, mobile phone provider, utility providers, TV licensing, your doctor and dentist etc., of your address change so new occupants do not have access to letters containing your personal information
- Remember, less is more. The less you give away about yourself, the lower the risk of information falling into the wrong hands
- Think before you buy online – use secure websites which display the company’s contact details, the golden padlock symbol and a clear privacy and returns policy. Check the web address begins with ‘https’.
If you are concerned you might be a victim of identity theft or fraud, you should act quickly to limit the damage:
- Check your financial accounts
- Order a credit report (from suppliers such as Experian, Equifax or Call Credit)
- Check your computer for viruses
Keep a record of your actions.
If you believe yourself to be a victim:
- Report the matter to the relevant organisation concerning the fraud
- Report all lost/stolen documents to the organisation that issued them
- Contact Action Fraud (the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre) 0300 1232040.