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Moving home is both challenging and time-consuming.
Alongside the selling process there is paperwork to file, solicitors to liaise with and a mortgage to obtain – that’s before we even start to think about packing. It’s no wonder arranging a postal redirection falls to the bottom of the priority list with near half of us failing to do so, as revealed by the Royal Mail.
Last year Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, stated that ‘previous occupier’ fraud increased by more than 5.6%, with 15,005 reported cases in 2015 rising to 15,851 in 2016. It also accounted for 9.2% of all identity fraud in the UK.
Needless to say, homeowners in the UK are putting their personal data at risk of falling into the wrong hands.
What is ‘previous occupier’ fraud?
‘Previous occupier’ fraud is commonly carried out by fraudsters who move into their victim’s former home and use personal details taken from misdirected post to commit duplicitous acts, such as fraudulently applying for a credit card or loan.
In light of this, what steps can you take to fight identity fraud when moving to a new property? Believe it or not, it’s easier than you might think.
Below, we’ve listed a handful of steps you can take to get you started:
Ask companies who regularly send you post to update their database with your new address. Make sure those who supply your utilities, bank and/or building society do the same as they are more likely to send confidential information to the address registered on their system. Not only this, they may spot suspicious activity on your account and alert you immediately.
Do not throw away anything containing personal information, such as name, address, date of birth, contact details or financials in the bin without shredding it first.
Once you are settled into your new home, take the time to check your credit score. This will flag if anything untoward has affected your account. Make sure to also go through any bank statements and report anything which seems suspicious.
Sign up to the Royal Mail’s redirection service for at least six months (12 months if you can) to limit the amount of letters posted to your previous address. Keeping track of your post is a simple step you can take to deter fraudsters from taking the opportunity to exploit your personal data.
If possible, keep your important personal documents such as passport, financial statements and pay-slips on your person during the move to minimise the risk of it being misplaced. Make sure all of your digital devices - smartphone, tablet, PCs and laptops – are password-protected and up-to-date with the latest anti-virus software.
Contact your local council to update the electoral register with your new address and deactivate your old one. By doing so, any post relating to voting will be diverted.
For further advice about how to protect you and your family against identity theft, visit our fraud and online security hub.