But now identity theft is a growing crime for the simple reason that people are making it easy for the thieves by providing the personal information themselves. Sounds unbelievable but it's true - a lot of people just aren't careful enough with the amount of personal information they give about themselves online.
This personal information is valuable. Fraudsters use it to open bank accounts and get credit cards, loans, welfare benefits and documents such as passports and driving licences. Or they can simply buy goods or transfer funds into an account they have set up.
Often people are hoodwinked into giving away their personal details by a phishing attack. This is when criminals try to trick people into revealing their bank account details by responding to an email that looks like it's from their bank. There are a lot of ways to spot a phishing scam. For a start, your bank would not ask for personal details by email, and many of emails come from banks people have never held an account with. Also many of the emails have poor grammar and spelling, and if you follow the link, you are redirected to a strange site.
Sometimes though, people give away valuable personal information without even being tricked into it. It's all there on their social networking pages like Facebook, Bebo and MySpace. While social networking sites can increase a person's circle of friends or contacts, and help them stay in touch, they can also increase exposure to people who have not-so-friendly intentions. Parents in particular should be very wary about what information their child is placing on the internet about their house and family, such as addresses and birthdays.
To protect themselves, people can check the security and privacy settings carefully, never give out personal information, and only accept people they know. There is also something else consumers can do, which is to obtain a copy of their credit report from High Credit Score. High Credit Score is an online membership programme which provides people with the tools they need to access and monitor their financial and credit information. This includes allowing them direct access to their credit report provided by one of the UK’s leading credit reference agencies.
With access to their credit report, as often as they wish, anyone can use it as a tool to monitor identity theft. It shows any credit, accounts or benefits applied for in their name. Any new activity on a credit report will trigger an alert. This might be something as simple as when a credit card statement is paid off, but if someone sees any unauthorised activity on their report, they can react immediately, and notify all of the relevant authorities and companies.
All the details of membership and what is available when you join are available at http://www.highcreditscore.co.uk - and a member can see, for instance, what their credit score is, and if there any penalties against them for late credit payments.
High Credit Score will also provide access to a specialist fraud team service who can assist anyone who is unfortunate enough to have their identity stolen. The fraud team works closely with the member in question to understand what crime has been committed, and what area of their identity it has affected, and then helps ensure their credit rating is returned to its rightful status.
If you would like to learn more about High Credit Score please visit http://www.highcreditscore.co.uk or call us on 0845 026 1092