How do I protect myself from identity theft and identity fraud?

Identity fraud happens when someone steals and uses your personal information to buy products or services. They get hold of this information in many ways - taking post from your bin, looking for information about you online, or contacting you directly, pretending to be from a real organisation.

There are several things you can do – offline and online - to protect your personal information. Here are a few tips.

Protect yourself offline:

  1. Shred your post
    Shred or cut up your post before putting it in the bin, so your name and address cannot be stolen.
  2. Redirect your post
    If you move house, ask Royal Mail to redirect your post for at least a year.
  3. Be tidy
    Don’t leave things like bills or personal documents lying around for others to see. Even on your work desk.
  4. Know your bank
    This sounds like an odd one, but knowing how your bank will and won’t contact you can help you spot fraudulent emails, texts or calls claiming to be from your bank. If a bank statement or new bank card doesn’t arrive, tell your bank or card company immediately.

Protect yourself online:

  1. Create complex passwords
    Create strong passwords and different passwords for every online account you have (email, online banking, social media, retail websites etc). Avoid using personal information in passwords, like names of family, school, pets, cars. This will reduce the likelihood that someone could guess or hack your password and access other platforms you use. You might find a password management tool useful.
  2. Use anti-virus software
    Protect your internet-connected devices with up-to-date security software, and make sure you install all official software updates and security fixes on your devices.
  3. Connect with those you know
    Don’t accept invitations from people you don’t know on social media sites.
  4. Be wifi wise
    Public wifi connections and Hotspots can be hacked and used to see what you’re doing online. Whilst it’s fine to use public wifi for browsing, never use it for buying something, logging in, online banking, filling in forms – or anything else that requires your personal or card data.
  5. Be private
    Double-check that your social media profiles are private so that you’re only sharing information with people you know.
  6. Think before you post
    Before you post anything on social media, forums or online platforms, make sure you’re not revealing any personal information – even pictures of your car registration can be used to get your address from DVLA records.

Related FAQs

Related how-to guides

How to report fraud

How to check that a website is genuine

How to check that an email from Triodos Bank is genuine

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