Understanding how to keep your personal details and identity safe is one of the best ways to prevent yourself from falling victim to fraud or identity theft.
Be cautious of anyone asking for your personal or financial details. Your bank, the police and other reputable companies will never ask for this type of information over email or the phone.
To protect yourself:
- never give personal details to anyone who contacts you unexpectedly
- don’t carry documents or bank cards unless you need them
- always shred unwanted documents such as bills, bank statements and even mail
- keep personal documents in a secure place
- report lost or stolen bank cards and personal documents immediately
- check bank statements as soon as they arrive and always report any unusual activity
- always keep your card in sight when paying at a shop or restaurant
- don't respond to unsolicited phone calls or emails
If you shop, bank or use your card online, it’s important to take a few simple steps to make sure your details are protected.
To help keep your details secure:
- create a strong password and use different ones for different accounts
- only enter card details on secure websites, look for the padlock icon in the address bar
- check the address starts with ‘https://’, the letter ‘s’ means it's secure
- make sure all devices have up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall installed
- always use the latest version of your web browser and regularly check for updates
- never respond to suspicious emails asking for personal information
Further information on keeping safe online can be found under cyber crime and online safety.
Cash machine and Chip and PIN fraud
When using a cash machine or a Chip and PIN machine:
- never write down or share your Personal Identification Number (PIN)
- cover the keypad with your hand when you type in your PIN number
- if you think the machine has been tampered with, don’t use it and tell the bank or store
- call your card issuer immediately if a cash machine takes your card
- put your card and cash away securely before leaving
- be wary of anyone trying to distract you
This type of fraud starts with a telephone call from someone pretending to be from the police or your bank. The fraudster will claim there is an issue with your card or bank account and get you to reveal personal information, including your PIN number. Once they have your information, a courier will be sent to collect the card, which they can then use to withdraw money from your account.
There are many other variations on this including being told you have an outstanding tax bill or loan you need to pay off to avoid being arrested. Fraudsters may also ask you to buy a high value item to help identify counterfeit goods or to withdraw a large amount of money to catch a corrupt member of staff at the bank or Post Office.
Remember you should:
- never tell anyone your PIN number
- never give personal information or bank account details to anyone over the phone
- never hand over your card, money or valuables to someone at the door to be sent off elsewhere.
If someone comes to your door claiming to be a police officer, always ask to see their identification. Close the door and call 101 to check they are genuine, a real police officer will not mind waiting whilst you check.
Other common fraud types
Fraudsters will use fake lotteries and prize draws, get-rich-quick schemes and pyramid selling to get money from their victims.
Victims will be offered investment opportunities which have little or no real value. This could include land, fine wines, share sales or carbon credits, amongst many others products.
The fraudster meets someone on a dating site and builds a relationship with them to gain their trust. They may then tell their victim they need money for a family emergency or flights over to see them.
This is when fraudsters contact the victim again under a different guise. They may pose as Trading Standards or Court officials, demanding money up front to take court action against the offenders of the original crime.
Report fraud using the Action Fraud online fraud reporting service.
You can also get further help and advice by calling the Action Fraud contact centre.
Further advice and support
Action Fraud - Help and advice on all types of fraud.
Citizens Advice Bureau - Free, impartial advice on your rights.