Get Safe Online
Getting safe - and staying safe – online is absolutely critical.
As more and more of our time is spent online, and the number of things we can do there keeps on growing as well, it's vital that we all know how to get safe online and how to make sure it stays that way.
As the sophistication of the internet grows so too does the sophistication of those who actively try to take advantage of unaware users.
Get Safe Online
Get Safe Online (www.getsafeonline.org) is a UK campaign deliberately aimed at home and small business users.
Research shows that over three quarters of the UK's population don't know enough about protecting themselves online. In fact 42% of that population just rely on friends and family for online safety advice.
The campaign aims to increase awareness and to provide authoritative, trustworthy and independent information and advice to online users.
The Isle of Man Government actively supports this campaign and is keen to promote key messages:
- Protect your PC - use anti-spyware, anti-virus, and personal firewall, as well as ensuring your operating system is updated
- Protect yourself – take time to educate yourself and your family so you understand the risks and apply reasonable judgement when you're online
- Keep monitoring and stay alert – the threats are always changing, so it’s critical to ensure your spyware and anti-virus programmes are up to date
What is identity theft and identity fraud?
Identity Theft is the misappropriation of the identity of another person, without their knowledge or consent. Another name for this is impersonation fraud.
The name and other personal details of the victim are used to obtain goods and services in the victim's name. Examples of the kinds of information that can be used may include date of birth, current address or previous address – the kind of information which is used to help establish identity in an application for all manner of services. Much of this information may be freely available in the public domain.
Identity Fraud is the use of the stolen identity in criminal activity, for instance, by obtaining goods or services by deception. Generally (but not exclusively) this involves the use of stolen or forged or fraudulently obtained identity documents such as a passport or driving licence.
Is identity theft/fraud a serious problem?
For the victims it most certainly is. Often it will affect their credit rating and therefore, their ability to obtain finance, insurance, even a mortgage may, at least temporarily, be compromised. The problems which arise as a result can be very difficult to sort out.
Do you know whether you are a victim of identity theft?
It is important to remember that anyone can potentially become a victim of identity theft. It is fair to say that the better your credit rating and financial standing, the more likely you are to be targeted as a victim. You should be aware of the warning signs to look out for. The following list is not exhaustive but may provide some food for thought:
- Have your regular bank or credit card statements failed to arrive? Have you become aware that any of your mail has gone missing?
- Have you been contacted by a debt collection agency about goods that you have never ordered or in respect of an account that you have never opened?
- Are there charges on your credit card statement for items that you haven't purchased or ordered?
- Have you received a letter or telephone call advising you that you have been denied or approved credit for accounts that you know nothing about?
How can you help to prevent yourself becoming a victim of identity theft?
- Never provide any credit card, bank or other confidential information to anyone by telephone, especially if they call you unless you can positively verify that the caller is genuine.
- Consider ordering your credit file report once a year from one of the major credit reference agencies. Study the report for any unauthorised activity. If there is any suspicious information in the report question the account or make enquiries to enable you to get to the bottom of it. Most credit reference agencies should be able to offer help and advice if this situation arises.
- Do not carry your extra credit cards, utility bills, your passport, your birth certificate or other Identity Documents except when necessary.
- Always retain your credit card receipts, and securely destroy them before disposal.
- Never leave your wallet, purse or any identity documents unattended, or in open view in your car.
- Always reconcile your bank statements and credit card statements as soon as possible after receiving them. Notify the card issuer or your bank if there are any purchases that you did not make.
- If you make an application for credit or insurance by telephone or in a public place, for instance within a shop, be careful that you are not overheard by others. They may use the information in an identity fraud. If you end up with any waste paper keep hold of it and securely destroy it when you get home.
- Memorise your passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs) so that you do not have to write them down. When you are using cash machines be aware of your surroundings to make sure that nobody can see you input your PIN.
- Keep a list, in a secure place, of all of your credit card accounts and bank accounts. This will allow you to quickly inform all of the issuers about missing or stolen cards. On the list include details of account numbers and telephone numbers of customer service or fraud departments. Consider registering with a card protection company which will do this for you should the need arise. Your bank may be able to recommend a reputable card protection company.
- Be wary of so called 'credit repair' organisations. If you have genuine problems, your creditors themselves are the first ones that you should contact. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you.
- If you move house, make sure that you put a mail redirection in place for at least the first year afterwards.
- Don't throw away credit offers without tearing them into small pieces or shredding them. These offers will often contain information which may be enough for an identity fraud. The same applies to other sensitive information such as, credit card receipts, bank statements, telephone bills and utility bills.