Having your identity stolen is not only disconcerting but time consuming too.

By taking a few easy steps you can prevent identity theft happening to you.

  • Be wary of shoulder-surfers at cash machines who stand close enough to see you punch in your PIN.
  • Store any documents which contain any personal details in a safe place and shred everything else – credit card receipts, old bank statements, everyday bills, pre-approved credit card offers – basically any document that has personal financial information on it can give an identity thief a foothold into your life.
  • If you have to post any personal documents ask the Post Office for advice on secure postage.
  • Limit the number of personal documents you carry around on a daily basis, for example your ID document, driving licence and passport.
  • Be mindful of credit card receipts, some still contain the full credit card number. Put the charge slip copies in a safe spot until your credit card bill arrives and check your bank and credit card statements carefully for unfamiliar transactions.
  • Monitor your credit accounts carefully, so you'll know if a bill's missing or unauthorised purchases have been made, and shred old credit and debit cards.
  • Always think about who you are giving information to and why they would need it. Don't provide personal information unless you know who you're talking to. If necessary ask them to provide a telephone number. You can check their identity and then ring them back.
  • Get a credit report at least once a year and clean up any errors. Look for personal information and credit accounts that aren't yours. Credit bureaus can make mistakes.
  • If you share a house or flat or have a communal area where mail is left, always chase overdue mail in case it's got into the wrong hands.
  • If you're moving, contact all your creditors and update them with your new address immediately. Make sure they acknowledge your change of address. Leave a forwarding address; you don't want credit information and new credit cards being delivered to the wrong address.

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