Identity theft

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Identity Theft

Identity theft is the use of a stolen identity in criminal activity to obtain goods or services by deception. If fraudsters can access enough information about a person’s identity such as name, date of birth, current or previous addresses they can commit identity fraud.

Identity fraud can have a great detrimental impact on your personal finances, credit ratings and mortgage until the matter is resolved. Identity fraud can take place whether the fraud victim is alive or deceased. There were more than 100,000 cases of identity theft in the UK last year, 80% of which occurred online.

Fraudsters use the identity details they have stolen to:

  • Open bank accounts in your name
  • Obtain credit cards, loads and benefits
  • Order products and services in your name
  • Take over your existing bank, building society accounts
  • Take out mobile phone contracts in your name
  • Obtain genuine documents such as driving licences, passports etc. in your name

Stealing a person’s individual identity details does not on its own constitute identity fraud but using that identity for any of the above activities does.

If you are a victim of identity theft and fraud, often the first you may know of it is when you receive bills for goods or services that you haven’t ordered or receive letters from debt collectors for debts that aren’t yours.

Criminals often steal your personal details by taking documents from your rubbish bins or by making contact with you and pretending to be a legitimate organisation e.g. sending you an email pretending to be your bank asking for your bank details and passwords.

How can you protect yourself from identity theft?

  • Shred anything with your name, address or financial details on it before binning it.
  • Never give your password, login details to someone purporting to be your bank or building society if they make unsolicited contact with you. Banks will never ask you for your PIN or whole security number or password.
  • Use a password that is difficult to guess and change it regularly.
  • Avoid sharing too much personal information on social media.
  • Check your financial statements carefully and report anything suspicious straight away to the bank or building society concerned.
  • If you are expecting a bank or credit card statement which doesn’t arrive when it should report it to the company immediately. If possible, arrange for paperless bills and statements.
  • Only use reputable websites to purchase goods or services online.
  • When you move house ask Royal Mail to redirect your post for at least a year.
  • Do not leave bank statements or bills lying around.
  • A number of credit reference agencies offer a credit report checking service to alert you to any unusual activity that could indicate a potential fraud. Examples of such companies include Experian, Noddle, ClearScore, Equifax and Callcredit.
  • Check your personal credit file 2-3 months after moving house.
  • When travelling, always lock passports, driving licences and other items of identification in a safe when they are not required.

Identity thieves have been increasingly targeting High Net Worth (HNW) clients not only because they have more money but also because there are more ways in which they can be targeted. For example, they are more likely to have multiple credit cards and bank accounts and make purchases online. They are also more likely to have employees who make purchases on their behalf. All of this makes them more vulnerable to identity theft.

Several specialist High Net Worth policies will cover for Identity Theft within their policies and Luker Rowe have excellent relationships with these insurers and have significant experience of arranging this type of cover.

Cover would typically include loss of monies, additional expenses involved in removing incorrect judgements in your name, additional fees charged when you re-apply for a loan, and any other associated legal costs. Commonly, cover would be for as much as £50,000.

Please call our Personal Insurances team if you would like more information.

Based on article on http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ and an article in Zurich Insider 04.02.16.

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