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Five ways to conquer identity theft and keep yourself protected

by Josef Kafka

From burglary and embezzlement to armed robbery and fraud, professional theft comes in many forms. Each is damaging in its own way, and costs time, money and energy to put right. But without doubt, one of the UK’s biggest rising trends in crime is identity theft. According to BBC’s Money Programme, the figure rises by 500% each year. So, what are you doing to keep yourself safe?

1.    Guard your cards  

Open bags invite interest, offering thieves the perfect opportunity to steal your debit or credit cards. Ensure you keep them firmly on your person when out and about, and be on guard when you use them, checking for signs of surveillance as you never know who could be looking at your PIN. Remember, the best defence is a good offence.     

2.    Avoid phishing scams

Phishing is a relatively new online phenomenon, where cyber criminals target individuals with emails that appear trustworthy. These emails contain links that replicate commonly visited websites where personal information is held. Before you know it, you’ve logged in and supplied your details to a perfect stranger. Check each website carefully for any abnormalities before you proceed. 

3.    Shred like your life depends on it 

Personal data such as bank statements, bills and receipts are prime fodder for identity fraudsters. A good shredder is essential in the modern home or office, and can ensure sensitive information is destroyed before it’s put to use elsewhere, thwarting criminals in their tracks.  

4.    Beware of malware

More malicious viruses can capture your entire keyboard stroke history, meaning private data, financial details and personal emails can be recalled at a moment’s notice. Ensure you keep an up-to-date, on-demand virus scanner enabled at all times. For added protection, a good anti-malware programme is always handy. 

5.    Keep your phone to hand

It might seem obvious, but a very serious form of identity theft can occur due to someone stealing your phone. The modern phone is an extension of yourself, holding reminders, emails, and personal information you wouldn’t usually think twice about storing. When it gets stolen, so too does that data and your privacy along with it. Keep it safe and secure, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

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