The five worst ID fraud scams!
Rachel Robson highlights the five worst types of ID fraud and shows you how to protect yourself...
Every week it seems that a new scam has been conjured up to try and catch us out. And just as we get to grips with the latest swindles, new ones are thrown our way.
Unfortunately, when times are tough, criminals become more eager to come up with new scams, and we become more susceptible.
So here, I’m going to highlight the top five ID scams to watch out for, according to Equifax.
1) Phantom flat transfers
Imagine this: You’re looking for a place to rent, and you ask to view a property. Before you go to see the property, the landlord asks you to provide a ‘proof of funds’ by transfer of money to a friend’s account. You’re then asked to send a copy of the receipt to the landlord, to prove you have enough money to cover the deposit and rent.
You go ahead and do this, thinking that as you're transferring the money to someone you trust, everything will be ok. But by doing this, you’ve effectively kissed your money goodbye. And when you go to collect your cash from the money transfer firm you've used, you find the money has already been withdrawn.
By giving the landlord the money transfer receipt, all she/he has had to do is pop along to the transfer agency, quote the transfer number, and run off with the cash. And of course, there was no property to rent in the first place.
So if you do get asked to transfer funds to prove you have enough money, simply don't.
- Watch our video: The phantom rental property market scam
Watch out for this scam if you’re a tenant!
2) Fake charities
I’m always a little dubious when someone comes up to me, particularly if I’m in a pub, and rattles a charity tin under my nose. Maybe I’m a little cynical, but I’m never quite sure whether they are genuine or not.
But now, the whole charity scam is being taken one step further. Several fake websites are springing up out of nowhere, designed to look like those of recognised charities so that donations meant to go towards helping Haiti, for example, go to the pockets of criminals.
So if you are planning to donate to charity, check whether the website is legitimate. You can read more on this below.
Unfortunately, the increasing popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter has come hand in hand with a rise in scams. And apparently, even the Energy Secretary, Ed Miliband, has fallen victim to this new method of ID fraud. And sadly, so have I.
In this latest scam, you receive a message from a friend (whose account has been hacked) saying ‘ha ha is this you?’, followed by a link. However, if you click on this link, spammers can gain access to your account and then use this to send messages and links to other websites that aren’t 100% reliable.
So make sure you don’t click on any of these links, and if you do, change your password immediately.
4) Email phishing
This is probably one of the best known ID fraud scams. Typically, you’ll receive a fake email from a website you use regularly, such as hotmail or ebay, or maybe your bank, asking you to reset or confirm your security details – often by following a link.
But if you click on this link, you’ll often be taken to a fake website with the aim of getting hold of your personal or financial details to defraud you. So make sure you delete any such emails and don’t click on any links.
Your bank will never ask you to confirm your bank details. If you are in doubt about the validity of an email, or if you think that you may have disclosed information to a fraudulent site, contact your bank immediately. For more information, check out the Bank Safe Online website.
5) Identity theft of the deceased
Sadly, even the deceased can be victims of fraud. Recently, a criminal gang was arrested for stealing the identity of a baby that had died 16 years ago, with his birth certificate being used to defraud more than £20,000.
Fraudsters can use the names of the deceased to open credit cards and other financial accounts, so you need to be extra careful when dealing with the death of family members and friends.
- Watch this video: The scams that make you shiver
Donna Werbner gets your two pence on the scams you hate, and finds out how you can protect yourself and stop the scammers from stealing your cash.
Top tips to protect yourself
So now you know what the scams are, here are 10 top tips for fighting back.
1) Check your bank account
Make sure you check your bank account on a regular basis and check for any unusual transactions. A really easy way to do this is with the lovemoney.com online banking tool which amalgamates information from all your different providers, allowing you to see all your different statements at a single glance, with a single log-in. (You can also categorise all your transactions, so you'll know immediately if some of your spending seems out of place.)
2) Log out
When using any online banking, it’s important to remember to log out properly, so that your details aren’t visible to anyone else.
3) Keep your PIN private
Don’t tell anyone your PIN and don’t write it down. It’s also best not to use the same PIN for all your cards, and don’t make it something obvious such as your birthday or 1234.
4) Shield your PIN
Always cover your PIN when you’re using a cash machine or Chip & PIN device in a shop. That way you will shield your number from prying eyes and hidden cameras.
5) Don’t give out details
Never give out your personal details on the phone or by email unless you know exactly who you are dealing with and you know they are from a legitimate organisation. If you have received a phone call, it can be a good idea to hang up and phone back yourself.
6) Be wary
Remember, if you are genuinely owed a rebate or any form of money from the Inland Revenue or your bank, they will always inform you in a written letter and never over the phone or via email.
7) Dispose wisely!
Make sure you carefully dispose of all documents that show your name and address – preferably by shredding them. This includes bank statements, letters from your doctor and utility bills.
8) Check your credit record
Make sure you regularly check your credit report as this lists all credit commitments and recent credit applications, so you’ll easily see whether someone has been trying to use your ID. You can sign up to a free credit report from Experian.
- Watch our video: Improve your credit score
No one wants to be rejected for credit. Check out these six ways to make sure that doesn’t happen.
9) Redirect your post
If you move house, make sure you ask the Post Office to redirect your mail to your new address – preferably for a year.
10) Charity donations
Finally, don’t forget if you’ve been caught out by a scam, you can seek advice of fellow lovemoney.com members by posting a question in our Q&A section!