Identity theft is never a nice thing to think about. Someone creating counterfeit documents about you, or misusing genuine identification and financial assets, like bank cards. Once someone has enough information about you to steal your identity, they can do all sorts of nefarious things with it, including commit financial fraud, travel undetected, fraudulently claim on insurance or benefits, and commit many more criminal activities in your name. Unfortunately, identity theft is becoming more and more common, with an average of 174,523 cases a year reported in the UK alone.
So, what can you do to protect yourself against identity theft?
Secure Your Important Documents
One of the best things you can do to protect your identity is to protect your personal documents. Keep identifying and sensitive documents like your passport, birth certificate and insurance information in a lockable unit, filing cabinet or container. Store the container away from windows and doors, and out of sight completely where you can. This applies to both businesses and individuals – locking away secure data is the best way to protect yourself.
Shred All Identifying Documents
There will also be plenty of times when you have identifying documents you no longer need to keep. When this happens, the best thing you can do is destroy them – securely. That means feeding them through a shredder! There are many documents that could put you at risk if they are not destroyed properly – from bank statements and old credit cards to expired photo IDs and even spam mail with your address on it. Destroying this data is the only way you can 100% guarantee the information is completely safe and cannot be stolen or misused. Even items including small bits of information like your date of birth need to be destroyed – as these can contribute to the wider puzzle about you that a criminal is trying to put together.
Only Shop On Secure Websites
When you shop online for yourself or on behalf of a company, try to make sure you are being smart about the data you give away and where you enter it. Only shop online on websites you know to be authentic and secure – look for the padlock icon in the search bar for confirmation on a site’s security, and if Google tells you a site isn’t safe – don’t use it! Alongside this, you should also make sure your antivirus software is up to date, and never shop online using a public WiFi connection, as these can be exploited to steal your data as it moves through the network.
Before Of Phishing Scams
Make sure you stay aware of what information you give away, especially if it’s to someone you don’t know. Phishing scams and telephone scams are on the rise, and scammers are getting much more sophisticated in their approach. Email phishing scams are a very traditional way of gathering your data, so make sure you are cautious with what information you give away and what emails you open. Similarly, be careful with what information you divulge on the phone. Never give out information to a provider who has called you – always ask to call them back on their official number so that you know the call is genuine. Many fraudsters will pose as an employee of a well-known business, and will try to keep you on the line instead of calling the genuine organisation back.
Destroy Unused Data Storage And Electronics
As technology progresses, a lot of our personal information is now stored on devices – computers, phones, hard drives and so on. This includes sensitive documents, passwords and delicate information that could be a goldmine for fraudsters and identity thieves. Once you are finished with a device, don’t be tempted to sell it on. Even once a device is wiped, the information can still be recovered using the right software and know-how. So, the best way to minimise the risk of this is to destroy the device.
At Hungry Shredder we specialise in helping individuals and business owners protect themselves against identity theft. We provide specialised on-site and remote shredding services, so you can be sure your data will never fall into the wrong hands. That includes things like hard drives and computers – which our machines can handle without a problem. If you would like to find out more, just get in touch with us today.