Are you at risk of identity theft? ID theft: test yourself
Find out how to protect your personal information from fraudsters
Losses from credit and debit card identity theft are on the rise. Which? research in October 2014 found fraudsters are using ever more sophisticated techniques to get your data. Take this quiz to find out how vulnerable you are - and how you can protect yourself.
Stopping identity theft starts with the basics. Ensure you're not making life easy for fraudsters using the oldest tricks in the book.
Do you use a paper shredder?
Identity fraudsters are known to rifle through rubbish looking for details they can use to rack up bills under your name. Invest in a paper shredder and stop them in their tracks.
This is a good start, as original documents like bank statements will provide an identity fraudster with practically everything they need to know to wreak havoc. But seemingly less sensitive documents, like receipts, can provide useful clues too. We recommend shredding all documents carrying your name.
Excellent! You're well protected against the old-fashioned identity theft technique of 'rubbish diving'. Continue to find out how to defend against the latest high-tech threats.
Are you on the 'open' Electoral Register?
When you register to vote, you're given the option of opting out of the 'open' or 'edited' electoral roll. This is a version of the register which is sold to companies including directory sites like 192.com. This can make it much easier for an identity fraudster to find your home address, perhaps using clues from your social media profiles. You can opt out by contacting your local Electoral Registration Office.
You've made a good decision, as this makes it much harder for an identity fraudster to find your home address. You should make sure anyone you live with has done the same.
If you don't opt out of the 'open' or 'edited' electoral roll when you register to vote, your personal information will be sold to companies including directory sites like 192.com. This can make it much easier for an identity fraudster to find your home address, perhaps using clues from your social media profiles. You can check whether you have opted out by contacting your local Electoral Registration Office.
Whether you buy goods online, use internet banking, or keep track of your finances in Excel, your computer's hard drive is more than likely full of sensitive information. Simple computer security steps will help keep your data away from the prying eyes of high-tech fraudsters.
Do you use Which?-recommended antivirus software?
That's good news. Remain on the lookout for fraudulent phishing emails - anti-virus software won't be any help if you're tricked into entering your details on a fake site.
Anti-virus software is an important line of defence for keeping your personal data safe. Head to our guide to the best security software.
Do you use the same password across multiple sites?
This is a big security risk. It only takes one website to leak its users' passwords for fraudsters to get their hands on the key to all your online accounts. You don't need to remember lots of passwords - use a password manager to do the job for you.
That's great news. You can make your online accounts even more secure by switching on two-factor authentication.
Social media is great for keeping in touch with friends, but it can also be a goldmine for fraudsters. Answers these questions to find out if you could be handing criminals your identity on a plate.
Have you ever accepted a Facebook friend request from someone you don’t know?
Fraudsters are known to send friend requests to their targets in order to gather information. It’s worth reviewing your Friends list to ensure you know who you’re sharing with. In any case, never reveal details of your whereabouts and think carefully about referring to local places as these could provide the clue a fraudster needs to steal your identity.
That’s good, but you should still be careful about the information you post. It only takes one Friend to be careless with their password for your information to end up in the wrong hands. Posts tagged with a location can be especially useful for fraudsters. Check out our guide to Facebook privacy settings.
Have you put your date of birth or home town on your Facebook profile?
Your home town could lead an identity fraudster to your address on the electoral register. Anyone who needs to know where you live will know already - we recommend never disclosing your location on Facebook. Your date of birth, meanwhile, is a gift to fraudsters. Delete it from your profile and be careful about mentioning your birthday - if a fraudster can see these posts, they can probably suss out your date of birth.
This is good news, but be careful about what you post. A casual mention of your local pub or a message thanking friends for their birthday greetings might be valuable information for an identity fraudster.
If you're an active Twitter user, you might enjoy sharing your views with the world. But fraudsters may find something interesting in your profile too.
Do you tag your tweets with your location?
It's also too easy to agree to share your physical location with a smartphone app or website. In the case of Twitter, this information could pinpoint your address and help a fraudster steal your identity. Head to Twitter's Security and privacy settings page and select the option to Delete all location information for peace of mind.
This is a sensible approach, but have you ever mentioned your local area in a Tweet? Searching your own Twitter account for the name of your home town - e.g. enter "from:RichardHeadland London", replacing Richard's Twitter handle and home town with your own - might turn up some surprises. Delete any old Tweets which could help a criminal find where you live.
Is your profile 'Protected' or visible to all?
That's good for privacy - but do you know who all your followers really are? Don't fall into a false sense of security. It's still worth being careful about the information you share.
Twitter is designed to allow you to share your thoughts widely, and it can be a great thing. But don't forget, your public Tweets will likely stay on the record for years - it's easy to slip up and reveal information which a determined fraudster might dig out later. If you only really need to share you Tweets with friends, consider following our instructions to Protect your Tweets.
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