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Equifax Urges People To Be Wary Of Id Fraudsters After A String Of Scams Are Uncovered

By CreditMan Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In the last month or so a string of ID fraud scams have been uncovered and leading online credit provider Equifax, is urging consumers to be more vigilant than ever against this type of criminal activity.

“Sadly a recessionary climate brings out the criminals” explained Neil Munroe, External Affairs Director, Equifax. “As quick as expert organisations and the crime prevention agencies are trying to tackle the latest scams to be identified, new frauds are being invented. And at the moment it seems that identity fraud and theft is particularly appealing to the fraudsters.

With so many fraudulent scams becoming apparent in the last month or so it’s more important than ever for people to be extra cautious. In particular, if asked for personal details at any time, whether it’s by email or on the phone, make sure you know exactly who you are speaking to and that they’re from a legitimate organisation before you give them any of your personal details. And remember a financial organisation will NEVER ask you for personal details by return email.”

Although its impossible to be protected from every single scam out there, Equifax has taken note of a few that have been exposed recently to help prevent individuals becoming a victim of ID fraud:

Equifax’s Top 5 ID Fraud Scams

Phantom flat transfers- Potential tenants are being targeted by so called landlords when they make a request to view a property and are asked to provide a ‘proof of funds’ by transfer of money in to a friend’s account. The ‘landlord’ then requests to see the money transfer receipt and with this gains access to the money at the transfer agency simply by quoting the transfer number. In a recent case, a student was asked to make a transfer of £1,800 in to a friend’s account, only to find that after sending the receipt to the supposed landlord as proof of funds, that the money was withdrawn when she asked her friend to collect it. With the receipt the landlord easily went to the agency, collected the funds and disappeared - leaving the student out of pocket and without anywhere to live!

Fake charities for Haiti- There has been much media attention on fake websites that have been set up, designed to look like those of recognised charities so that donations meant to go towards helping Haiti, land in the pocket of criminals.

Twitter- Even the Energy Secretary, Ed Miliband, has fallen victim to this new method of ID fraud. In his particular case he, amongst others, found strange messages being sent from his Twitter account, not written by himself. One theory later emerged that people had responded to a Tweet that had supposedly come from an acquaintances account saying ‘ha ha is this you?’ After people had responded to this message, spammers gained access to their accounts and were able to use them to send messages and links to other websites that weren’t one hundred per cent reliable. This shows the dangers of spamming on social networking sites, and reminds people to be extra careful when opening messages or emails from unknown senders.

Email Phishing- Email phishing is probably one of the better known ID fraud scams around. This often involves a fake email from a much used website such as ebay or hotmail, possibly even a bank, requesting ‘security updates’, or simply a spam email that allows hackers to access personal information in an email account.

Identity theft of the deceased- In a recent case of identity fraud of the deceased, 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. This goes to show that sadly, even the deceased can be victims of identity fraud. Fraudsters are using names of the deceased to open credit cards and other financial accounts, so Equifax is urging families to be extra aware when dealing with the death of loved family members and friends.

“Although ID fraud is on the rise, it doesn’t mean you have to be a victim” continued Neil Munroe. “There are a number of methods you can use to protect yourself from this kind of theft and hopefully avoid ID fraud all together. It is really a matter of being extremely vigilant as to who you give your personal details to and remaining on guard at all times”.

Equifax’s top tips for protection against ID fraud

* Apply for a copy of your credit report so that you can monitor your payments and keep an eye on the activity of your account.
* Never give out your personal details on the phone or by email until you know exactly who you are dealing with and that they are from a legitimate organisation.
* Remember that 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
* Never tell anybody your PIN and keep it secure
* Make sure you dispose properly of any bills or bank statements with your account details on after checking them for any unusual activity.
* Make sure you log out properly when using any online banking, so that your details aren’t visible to anyone else.
* When donating to charity, try to use recognisable sites.

An excellent way to keep an eye on your credit and monitor the activity on your card is to apply for Equifax’s online credit report. The Equifax Credit Report, with the facility to access credit information for the first 30 days free, gives consumers a valuable insight into their credit status. Accessible simply by logging onto www.equifax.co.uk it is designed to help individuals understand their credit file and see what lenders see to assess new credit applications. It also includes expert tips and advice to help consumers take the right steps to manage their finances and navigate through life’s challenges.

If the customer does not cancel before the end of the 30 Day Free Trial, the service will continue at £6.99 per month, giving them unlimited online access to their credit information and weekly alerts on any changes to their credit file. It also includes an online dispute facility to help them correct any errors on their credit file simply and quickly.