Say what you like about identity fraudsters, but there’s one thing you can’t deny: they’re clever. With just a few snippets of information, they can build up a detailed picture of your identity and use that to pose as you. Though a lot of people are savvy enough nowadays to make sure passports, IDs, bank cards, bank statements and suchlike are destroyed, many don’t realise that giving away seemingly innocuous pieces of information can be all an identity thief needs – so think twice before you part with any of the following details.
“Surely my membership of the local badminton club can’t lead to identity fraud being committed against me?” I hear you ask. But sadly, it can, in more ways than one. The rise of social media means such information is far easier to get hold of than more detailed confidential information. Once an identity thief knows about your membership, they have two options: they can contact the club posing as you and attempt to gain more personal information that way, or contact you posing as the club and do the same. It’s therefore a good idea to check your privacy settings before you post the snaps from the tennis tour to Marbella!
In the same way that they can use club membership information, identity fraudsters will use the information about your employer made available on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to uncover information about you. Many wouldn’t think twice about replying to an email purporting to be from payroll asking for verification of bank details, and it’s this trust that identity fraudsters will take advantage of.
Like employer information, many people prominently display their email address on their social media accounts, not realising that this is extremely useful information to criminals. Yes, most phishing emails go something along the lines of “INSTANT WIN!!! JUST FILL IN BANK DETAILS BELOW AND RECEIVE YOUR FREE TICKETS TO BARBADOS!!!” but some fraudsters and their scams are somewhat more sophisticated. Additionally, don’t forget that when sites such as PayPal use an email address in lieu of a username, by listing it publicly you’ve essentially shared half of your login details for whoever may want them.
Fraudsters don’t need detailed account information to con you – simply knowing which bank you’re with is enough. Many have studied how particular banks get in touch with their customers and can send genuine-looking postal or email correspondence. If you receive a message from your bank asking you to provide any information, call or visit a branch to check that the request is authentic, and make sure only those who need to know who you’re banking with do so.
Much of protecting yourself from identity fraud is plain common sense – but as we wisen up, so do the fraudsters. Make sure you’re not giving anything away that could be used against you, and if you have any personal information on paper or held on a computer, hard drive or data disc which you no longer need, contact a secure confidential waste disposal company such as Datashredders, who can visit any address and shred paper, plastics, cardboard, computer equipment and more onsite in minutes. Just a few amendments to privacy settings on social media, a moment’s thought when sharing information online and a quick call to a group of friendly, expert data shredders now could save you time, money and stress in the long run.