What is Identity Fraud?
Identity fraud occurs when personal information about an individual is used by someone else without their permission to open bank accounts or get credit cards, loans, and state benefits in the individual’s name. Information can also be used to ‘take over’ existing savings accounts and investments to fraudulently withdraw funds.
The types of personal information used for identity fraud are name, address history, date of birth, national insurance number. Personal information can be compromised in a number of ways. It is often used by criminals taking documents from rubbish bins or by making contact with individuals by phone or e-mail, and pretending to be from a legitimate organisation such as ours.
What measures can I take to avoid becoming a victim?
Your personal information is extremely valuable and you should take as much care to protect it as we do. The industry advises that you:
- Destroy documents, including envelopes and junk mail, before you discard them.
- Keep important documents safe, for example, passport or driving licence and/or financial policy documents.
- If you move ensure your mail is redirected. Inform all of your financial companies and other organisations (such as the DVLA) of your change of address immediately.
- If your passport or driving licence has been lost or stolen contact the issuing organisation immediately.
- If you stop receiving mail contact Royal Mail for an explanation.
- Review your financial statements for unauthorised activity.
- Be suspicious if you are unexpectedly contacted by telephone, email, post, fax, asking you for personal information e.g. password, or policy number.
- If you are a company director consider using one signature on company documents and another for your private financial paperwork
- Ensure your financial providers have your current contact details.
- Regularly obtain a copy of your personal credit file
- If your plastic cards are lost or stolen, cancel them immediately
- Beware of ‘phishing scams’ or fraudulent e-mails
- Don't use the same password for more than one account and never use banking passwords for any other websites.
- Keep your passwords safe and never record or store them in a manner which leaves them open to theft, such as in your purse or wallet, or in a file on your PC.
What are some of the fraud indicators that may suggest I am the victim of identity fraud?
- There are transactions missing on your bank statement, for example, direct debits to your investment. Fraudsters have been known to change direct debits to investments then close that investment and steal the assets.
- There are transactions missing on your Scottish Widows annual benefit statement. A fraudster may have cashed part of your investment.
- You stop receiving routine performance information concerning your investment, for example, your annual statement. A fraudster may have changed your address.
- You are unexpectedly refused credit or a personal loan
- You receive communications confirming actions you have not authorised, for example, change of address, change of bank details, withdrawal payment.
- It would be extremely unusual for Scottish Widows to ask you to ignore correspondence due to a company error. If in doubt, contact Scottish Widows for clarification.
- It would be extremely unusual for Scottish Widows to ask you to complete a questionnaire either by email or in writing in respect of information already held, for example, name, address, policy number, or signature even if the communication appears authentic. If in doubt, contact Scottish Widows for clarification.
Where can I get further advice regarding Identity Fraud?
- If you believe you are the victim of identity fraud you should contact Scottish Widows and your other financial providers as soon as possible.
- Consider contacting CIFAS – The UK’s Fraud Prevention Service - to apply for protective registration. Their website address is www.cifas.org.uk
- Take a look at the Home Office website – www.identitytheft.org.uk
The Money Advice Service
The Money Advice Service website offers impartial information on helping you with your money, including a wealth of information on scams and swindles such as identity fraud, online fraud and how to protect yourself from scams and theft.
Visit their webpage at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk and search for 'scams' using the search tool at the top of the page.