As an experienced online gamer, you will probably already be aware that being asked to register online and make payments for gaming websites and portals is all part of the modern world of internet-based gaming. However, there is a risk attached to every situation where your personal details are transmitted to another company and identity theft can happen when someone else gets hold of enough of these details to impersonate you. Signing you up for a mailing list on your behalf is one thing, but applying for credit while you are unaware of this impersonation is something else entirely. UK fraud prevention service CIFAS states that this is already happening more than 100,000 times every year, and this figure is growing.
Once a fraudster is able to obtain your name and address, some credit providers only require a few more basic details to process an application. The big problem is that as far as they are concerned, the application has come from you. Naturally, when the time comes to settle the account and pay the bill, the lender will only be able to contact you and it is often the responsibility of the named individual to prove that fraud has taken place. This can be a lengthy process and any adverse credit record entries could stay in place for an extended period of time.
There are a number of steps that you can take to prevent identity theft from occurring – this is both online and in the real world. It goes without saying that ‘phishing’ attacks are a serious threat, and you can counteract these simply by contacting the named organisation through their official website or telephone number to check if the details request is genuine (most of the time it will be a scam attempt). Check the top-left or top-right corner of your web browser window for a padlock symbol when you enter sensitive information and any name, address and financial information that is on paper needs to be shredded before it is discarded to stop prying eyes from seeing it.
To make matters even more complicated, it is possible to become a victim of identity theft and not even realise until your credit file has been updated. This can be an entry of finance being taken out, as well as the harmful addition of adverse credit entries when payments are not made on time. By signing up with Experian CreditExpert, you can receive alerts if any information is changed on your personal credit report, and anything that you don’t recognise can be investigated further. In the worst-case scenario that you become a victim of identity theft, they also have a team of advisers to help you get the data removed as soon as possible.
This is something that everyone needs to be on the lookout for (the original article about this becoming a real concern is on Experian’s site) and it seems that more and more people are falling victim to identity theft on an ever-increasing scale. Criminals are now even selling batches of this stolen data. To try and prevent this activity Experian CreditExpert services also include web monitoring for your personal details. If any of your information appears on the internet, the service makes an effort to locate it and warn you before it is too late