Protecting your identity
We’ve all heard stories about criminals who have stolen someone else’s identity to illegally obtain credit, goods or other services. So what can we do to protect ourselves? Take a look at our information and guidelines below.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is a fast growing crime. Criminals have ways of finding out your personal information like your address, passwords and policy or account numbers. They can use this information for illegal activity like opening bank accounts or obtaining credit cards, loans, state benefits and documents like passports and driving licences in another name. They may even try to take over your bank account and withdraw money. If your identity is stolen, you may have difficulty applying for loans, credit cards or a mortgage until the matter is sorted out, so it’s important to take steps to make sure you protect your identity.
How can I protect my identity?
There are lots of things you can do to prevent your details from being misused by criminals. Here are some examples.
- Keep important documents like your driving licence, passport, birth or marriage certificate in a safe place, preferably in a locked drawer or cabinet.
- Regularly ask for a copy of your personal credit file from a credit reference agency to see if it includes any credit applications you do not recognise.
- Tell us when you change address. You can register with the Royal Mail redirection service to help prevent identity fraud when you move.
- Be careful in shared buildings if other people have access to your post. Contact Royal Mail if you think your post is being stolen or redirected somewhere else without your approval.
- If your job requires your personal details to be publicly held at Companies House, for example if you are a Director or Company Secretary, let us know. We can then put measures in place to counteract attempts by criminals using this publicly available data.
- Avoid throwing documents which include your name, address or other personal information in your rubbish bin. Bills, receipts, statements or even unwanted post in your name can be misused in the wrong hands. Where possible, you should shred documents to minimise the risk of criminals obtaining information.
- If you lose any important documents, such as your passport or driving licence, report it immediately. Inform the organisation that issued it and, if stolen, contact the police.
- Check your bills and statements as soon as they arrive. If any unfamiliar transactions are listed, contact the company concerned immediately.
How can I spot identity theft?
There are a number of indicators that may suggest your identity has been stolen or misused. Keep an eye out for the following.
- Your bills and statements do not arrive as expected, or you stop receiving any post at all.
- An important document like your passport or driving license has been lost or stolen.
- Transactions you do not recognise start appearing on your statements.
- Bills, invoices or receipts addressed to you start arriving for goods or services you have not requested.
- You receive statements in your name relating to accounts that you have not opened.
- A loan or credit application is unexpectedly rejected despite having a good credit history, or you apply for welfare benefits and are told you are already claiming when you are not.
- You are contacted by solicitors or debt collectors for debts that are not yours.
What should I do if I think I am a victim of identity theft?
- Act quickly. This will make sure you are not liable for any financial losses caused by criminals using your identity.
- Identify which documents or bank cards may be in the wrong hands and contact your bank or the organisation who issued the missing document to alert them to the situation.
- Contact other companies that you have financial products with to alert them to the situation. Contact details for the Phoenix Financial Crime team are given in the useful contact section below. Do not include any policy or product information at this time, just your contact details, name, address and telephone number. Our Financial Crime team will contact you to talk things through with you.
- If you believe documents containing details of your identity have been stolen, contact your local police station to report the theft. Ask for a crime number.
- Check that you have received all the post you are expecting. Contact Royal Mail if you have any suspicions.
- If you suspect your identity is being misused you can ask for a copy of your credit file from a credit reference agency. This will check for any suspicious entries. You can also get advice about removing or amending information that you believe is incorrect.
What is phishing?
This is where emails are sent by fraudsters claiming to be from a genuine company asking customers to update or verify their personal information. Clicking on the links in one of these emails will take you through to a bogus website where criminals can capture any personal information you enter for their own fraudulent purposes.
How can I prevent myself being a victim of phishing?
The key thing is to be suspicious of all unexpected emails you receive, even if they look like they’ve come from a trusted source. Your bank may contact you by email, but they will never ask you to confirm your login or security password by clicking on a link and visiting a website. Stop to think how your bank normally communicates with you and never disclose your password or personal information in response to an email.
Phishing emails are sent completely at random in the hope of reaching a live email address of a customer with an account at the bank being targeted. Phoenix will never contact you by email to ask you to enter your password or any other sensitive information online.
For more advice visit the Bank Safe Online website.
Why do you do identity checks?
To protect you and your identity, we have an process in place to make sure we are dealing with you, and not someone pretending to be you. This is why we’ll sometimes ask you for evidence of identification, or extra security questions, just to make sure you are who you say you are, even though you may have held a policy with us for many years.
If we ask you for evidence to confirm who you are and where you live, please remember we do this to protect you and are not meaning to be awkward. If you have a policy in joint names, we may ask for identification of both parties.