Updated: Aug 26
Have you noticed odd activity on your bank accounts?
Have you been receiving letters or phone calls for unknown people at your address?
Don’t just ignore them as they could be key clues that you could be the victim of identity fraud or a broader cybercrime.
Stories of data breaches, hacks and cybercrime are all too frequent for my liking.
According to the National Crime Agency cybercrime now accounts for more than 50% of all crimes in the UK, with malicious hackers attacking computers and networks at a rate of one attack every 39 seconds (University of Maryland).
In the past year, nearly 700 million people in 21 countries experienced some form of cybercrime. (Symantec) and more than 1.3 billion social media users have had their data compromised within the last five years.
We are all doing more now than ever before to stay safe online while businesses are spending more money than ever before on cybersecurity, but we're still not doing enough.
What we have to remember is that the more we do to combat cybercrime, the more the cybercriminals will have to do to succeed.
So, they become more sophisticated and more tools and techniques are discovered. Just search YouTube for OSINT techniques and you’ll see exactly how they do it.
But not all attacks are sophisticated, just ask TV star Helen Skelton who lost £70,000 after falling victim to a simple phone scam, so it’s important we have our wits about us all times.
I am an experienced cybersecurity professional so it will probably surprise you that even I have been breached 14 times, yes 14 times, as part of various worldwide data breaches.
The most worrying part though is that many of you reading this article may not even know that your data has been breached - at least if you know you can do something about it.
How does the saying go? Forewarned is forearmed.
How to detect if your identity has been stolen
There are several obvious things which may identify whether you have been a victim of identity theft, starting with whether you have lost or had important documents such as your passport or driving licence stolen.
Has any post you had been expecting not arrived? Or maybe you are receiving no post at all.
You may already be a victim of identity theft if:
Items have appeared on your bank or credit card statements that you do not recognise
You applied for a state benefit but are told that you are already claiming
You receive bills, invoices or receipts addressed to you for goods or services you haven't asked for
You have been refused a financial service, such as a credit card or a loan, despite having a good credit history
A mobile-phone contract has been set up in your name without your knowledge
You have received letters from solicitors or debt collectors for debts that aren't yours
How to stay safe
Check your credit card report regularly to see if it includes any entries you do not recognise
Royal Mail and other postal service offer a redirection service. Consider it when you move house
If you move house, also tell: - Your bank - Your credit-card company - And all other organisations that you deal with, as soon as possible.
Be mindful of people that might have access to your post (left in open place, on the patio or in the trash).
Contact Royal Mail or other post providers if you think your post is being stolen.
Check whether a mail redirection order has been made in your name without your knowledge.
Shred your confidential paper! Everyone can access your bin!.
Credit and debit cards
Cancel any lost or stolen credit or debit cards immediately.
Keep your personal information secure when using your card over the phone. Don't give credit card information in public places
Look after your documents
Store your personal documents in a safe place.
If you lose your passport, driving licence, cards or other personal documents immediately contact the organisation that issued it.
Destroy unwanted documents, preferably by using a shredder
Resources to help protect your identity
Set up Google alerts for when new information about you appears.
Protect my ID service from Experian – they will monitor your credit report for changes and alert you to signs of potential identity fraud: