/ Money, Shopping, Technology

Is it too easy for fraudsters to steal our identities online?

Fraud in light bulb

ID fraud isn’t a new problem. We all know we should shred our financial statements, lest a fraudster raids our bin. But with our lives moving online, there are lots of new opportunities for criminals to get our personal details.

And fraudsters can often access our details without needing to get their hands dirty.

Online ID theft on the increase

According to fraud prevention organisation Cifas over 80% of all identity fraud was perpetrated online in the first quarter of this year.

Security experts say you should make sure you keep every piece of software on your computer up to date, not just anti-virus software. Criminals can hack into your computer by exploiting weaknesses and loopholes. And once they’ve done that it’s possible for them to see all of your documents and/or monitor your online activity.

So next time a software update pops up on your screen, rather than feeling irritated and ignoring it (I definitely speak from personal experience here!) make sure you do it. And for anyone who uses apps on their smartphone the same thing is true.

This is not to mention the whole host of vishing and phishing scams that we’re all often exposed to where fraudsters try to trick you into revealing your details over the phone or via email.

And the old fashioned ways are still happening too, so advice about shredding documents and making sure you update your address when you move house remains true.

Protect your details – online and offline

Although you can usually recover any financial losses, and get corrections made to your credit record once you report an incident of fraud, this process can be time consuming and distressing. So it pays to be vigilant with your personal details whether online or offline.

I’m interested in hearing from people who’ve been a victim of identity fraud. What happened and did you ever find out how the fraudsters had managed to get hold of your details? And if you haven’t been a victim of ID fraud, do you have any tips or advice for others?

Useful links

How to get your money back after a scam

Michael Levin says:
5 March 2016

I’ve just been reading the article on Shredders in Which, March 2016.

Why bother to buy a shredder? When I want to get rid of what you call ‘sensitive documents’, I take them to the backyard and put a match to them. Simple and cheap.