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ID Theft

5 easy steps to help prevent identity theft in the UK

October 6, 2022

Identity theft can be a bit like letting the proverbial genie out of the bottle. It’s not always easy to reverse it once it happens.  

If you fall victim to a phishing scam in an unguarded moment, you could spend a long time regretting that moment. The problem with identity theft is that the people who steal your identity could use it again and again.

You could spend years checking your credit score or worrying what new account they’ll open in your name. Luckily, there are some simple ways to help prevent it. 

Good password hygiene

Before you roll your eyes, good password hygiene is arguably one of the best ways to help protect yourself from identity theft. Nobody likes remembering complex passwords with letters, numbers and special characters. 

Still, it’s your best defence against someone trying to access your online accounts and sensitive data. The first thing to do is set up two-step authentication on your accounts. It’s easy but it can help protect you from phishing, malware or other social engineering scams.

Always use different passwords for each account. Never use obvious words or something that a cybercriminal could guess, and never share passwords with anyone else. If that all sounds very complicated, simply try a password manager.

Look out for social media scams

Identity theft is on the rise on social media. Cybercriminals use cloned accounts to commit social engineering scams on unsuspecting victims. It can be difficult to spot the fakes and to get imposters removed from a platform. 

In the case of novelist Joe Dunthorne, he found out that a cloned account was propositioning fans in his name. Cybercriminals can easily create cloned accounts then approach friends of the account holder via their DMs, saying they were locked out of their original account. They can use the cloned account to try to infect people with malware or to peddle other social engineering scams.

Social media accounts can also be hacked. If a ‘friend’ contacts you on social media to ask for sensitive information or sends you a strange link and nothing else, think before you act. Contact them using another platform if you’re suspicious.

Avoid phishing scams

Beware of phishing emails asking you to verify your identity or telling you that there’s a problem with your account. A common trick is to say that your bank or credit card account has been hacked, asking you to log in via a link.

The link leads you to a fake website that can look like the real thing but is only there to record your login details. Scammers can use these to access your account or steal your identity. These social engineering scams are designed to get you to react without thinking by creating a sense of urgency.

Always pause for a moment to think if you get one of these mails. Doublecheck the email address and sense check what they’re saying. If in doubt, call the service provider for confirmation. Your bank will never contact you to ask for personal information or login details. That should always be a red flag.

Avoid malware

Cybercriminals can use malware like spyware or Trojans to infiltrate your devices and access sensitive personal data. Sometimes they can use an infected attachment or link in a phishing email as a means of delivery. 

Dodgy websites or pop-ups can also give you more than the free gift or movie download that they promise. Hackers can also infect you with malware if you use open public Wi-Fi networks.

Always avoid clicking on any suspicious attachments or links, even if they appear to come from someone you know. If in doubt, message them to see if it’s legit.

Check your statements for anomalies

A simple way to check if your identity has been stolen is to regularly check your bank or credit card statements for any suspicious activity. Look out for transactions that you don’t recognise, and contact your bank or credit card company if you see anything unusual.

A cybercriminal could charge items to your card without your knowledge if they have your card details. The sooner you spot an issue, the easier it is to get it resolved and get the charges removed. 

Identity theft is a particularly sinister crime but there are steps you can take to avoid it. Be careful how much information you share online and keep your wits about you if you encounter something that looks suspicious.

If you apply common sense and know what tricks to look out for, it’s easy to protect your identity. 


Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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