Protect Yourself Against Identity Fraud

Police issue guidelines to prevent becoming a victim

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It has come to light that identity theft is very much alive and thriving in the local area. 

With reported incidents on the rise, one resident of Monmouth Close told "We have now seen the same chap three times going through our communal bins and taking away paperwork.  We called Chiswick police the second time and they told us to call 999 if we saw him again as they need to catch him in action.  They also told us that this man is already known to them and lives in Ealing." 

"We have just seen him again today and called 999 - he has gone now though - and I'm sure that the Police have to respond to matters in order of  priority. We will now have a camera ready to catch him in action and if everyone was to look out maybe something could be done to eradicate these parasites."

Identity theft is the unlawful taking of another person’s details without their permission. The information stolen can can range from a copy of birth certificate to copies of discarded bank or credit card statements and utility bills and be used to obtain financial services goods and other forms of identification i.e. Passports and Driving Licences.

Once the criminals have copies of someone’s identity they can embark on criminal activity in their name with the knowledge that any follow up investigations will not lead automatically to them. With your details they can obtain documents that are in essence real but containing false information thus making it difficult for organisations to known who they really are dealing with.

PC Tim Scrimshaw of Southfield Safer Neighbourhood Team said "Several people have stated that they have seen people going through rubbish and taking personal discarded documentation. I have been forwarded a website by the crime prevention office which is worth looking at if you have any concerns -"

Guidelines taken from the Met's website include:

Protect yourself!

  • Be careful with your personal information. If you receive a telephone call from a credit card company, bank or other retail company asking to confirm certain details about yourself decline them and ask to call them back preferably through a central switchboard.
  • When destroying personal correspondence such as bank and credit card statements consider a shredder or even burning them on the garden refuse. If you cannot do either then tear the papers up into very small pieces and place in the refuse bin with other waste products.
  • If you move address remember to inform all of the companies that send personal information to you in the post. Always consider re-directing your post with Royal Mail. If you fail to do this people moving in might have free access to your personal details and misappropriate them.

How do you know if are victim to this type of fraud?

  • Are you missing your regular monthly statements?
  • Have you noticed charges to your accounts that are not yours?
    Remember to check all statements especially bank and credit card.
  • Being contacted by a debt collection agency about outstanding payments for items or services that you have not ordered.

Take Action - Act Quickly

  • Firstly do not ignore the problem it might not be you that has ordered some goods or opened an account but the debt falls to your name and address.
  • Once blacklisted for credit it may take many years to fully recover the problem you might have difficulties in obtaining a mortgage or other bank credit.

September 18, 2006