2 minutes reading time (380 words)

Identity theft: are you at risk?

penCan interests and talents shown when young point to our children’s future careers?

I jolly well hope not.

The boy has just been caught forging my signature in his homework book. While I find this hilarious (I used to forge my parent’s signatures too and even sunk to altering my school reports) I do wonder if he’s destined to be a forger in years to come. As it is, he already knows my internet passwords and probably my PIN too (he watches me at cash machines very closely....).

Obviously, I’m not really worried – indeed, financially he should be more concerned about me, given that I dip into his savings regularly without asking. But I guess it’s a reminder that we all are at risk of having our identities stolen – and thus our finances raided. Identity fraud is when your personal information is stolen and used by a fraudster for financial gain. Often you might not even be aware your identity’s been stolen until you find odd transactions on your bank account or when you get an unexpected bill.

Fraudsters can get your personal information by theft (having your passport stolen, for example) or in more covert ways: they can hack into your computer or persuade you to give them information such as bank details on the phone or by email. They can then use this information to get at funds in your account, take out credit or buy goods in your name.

If you do suspect your identity has been stolen – if it’s your bank security that’s been breached the fraudster may do a test transaction for a few pounds so watch out for those – then get hold of your bank/credit card supplier as soon as possible. If you’ve not given out secret passwords then your money should be returned.
But prevention is better than cure. So never reply to unsolicited phone calls or emails. You should also change passwords regularly and don’t have the same one for everything. And be careful what you put on line: the reason I don’t have my birth date on Facebook isn’t because I want to pretend I’m younger. It’s because it’s a useful piece of information for fraudsters. So don’t make it child’s play for fraudsters to target you.

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Saturday, 20 April 2019