8 steps to protect yourself from identity theft and scams

We are all producing more personal data than ever before and much of the collection of that data occurs online. This, in turn, has led to a significant rise in criminal activity that seeks to misuse, manipulate and profit from the personal data of their victims. Such activity comes in many forms but could, for example, involve a fraudster taking your personal data and using it to apply for credit in your name.
Misuse of our personal data is a serious problem but there are some practical steps we can all take to reduce the likelihood of it happening to us:
1. Always remember that your personal data is valuable.

2. Scam emails – if you receive an email asking for your personal details or to click on a link, always err on the side of caution. Legitimate organisations will never pressure you into divulging your personal data. If in any doubt, do not reply and do not click on the link.

3. Shred documents – fraud does not only happen online. Make sure you shred personal data you may have in paper form, such as bank statements, before you throw them away.

4. Be careful what personal data you make public – information you choose to make public, such as on social media, can be a rich source of data for fraudsters. Do not share information that may help others guess your passwords or answer your security questions.

5. Check bank statements – review your bank and card statements regularly and be on the look out for suspicious transactions. If you see anything that doesn’t look right, report it to your bank straight away.

6. Use strong passwords – we rely on passwords for so much of our routine activities these days so it can be hard to be disciplined about using strong passwords and changing them often but it is definitely worth it.

7. Never share or write down passwords, account details or PINs.

8. Never be embarrassed about being suspicious or asking for advice from someone you trust.