How to Protect Against Identity Theft

Written by Karen Bryan

shredded paper

Identity theft is when someone else uses your personal details,  usually for financial gain, e.g. to fraudulently apply for a loan or credit card.

You may not even immediately realise this has happened to you. That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly check your bank and credit card statements for any transactions that you don’t recognise. You should also beware of suspicious emails and phone calls which claim to be from your bank.

It’s a pain to sort out identity theft once it comes to light. It could temporarily adversely affect your credit rating, making it harder for you to obtain financial products.

It’s simpler to try to protect against identity theft happening in the first place.

One way for criminals to find your data is to rummage through your bin. If you have thrown out hard copies of things like bank and credit card statements, it’s easy for criminals to use these details. That’s why you should shred any items like these before disposal. You can buy a small shredder for around £12.

You also need to be aware that even after using factory reset on your mobile phone, an expert could still retrieve some of your data – especially from an Android phone. With many people doing online banking through apps, this could give a criminal easy access to your bank account. In the past, when I only used my mobile phone to make calls, I was happy enough to sell it for a few pounds. But since I started doing more things online on my phone, I’d held onto my old phones.

The hard drive of a discarded computer can also pose a serious security risk. You can remove and destroy the hard drive, before taking your device to the local household waste recovery centre, or, if you bought the device locally, you can return it to retailer.

Businesses of all sizes face the similar issues. They could be in breach of data protection if the contents of their database containing customer details were retrieved, either from a hard copy or a hard drive. It could be cost-effective for a business to outsource the disposal of confidential waste by using a firm such as Datashredders who can visit business premises with a powerful mobile data shredder machine, which can even shred laptops and hard drives. The shredded paper is baled, and the majority sent for recycling.

So play it safe and follow my tips on how to protect against identity theft.