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IF YOU DON’T SHRED IT, YOU’LL REGRET IT...

With the high number of security breaches recently, this blog takes a look at how to prevent criminals from stealing private information...

As identity theft reached record highs last year, it’s about time we got serious about preventing criminals from stealing our confidential information.

The scale of the issue is highlighted by the fact that more than 4,000 NHS records were stolen in March this year alone, including names, date of births and national insurance numbers of staff members.

In addition, Fraud prevention specialists, Cifas have conducted research on 277 banks and businesses across the UK and have found that there were 172,919 recorded frauds in 2016 – the highest level since records began 13 years ago. 

That’s why at Topwood we’re looking to raise awareness of identity theft and sharing some advice on how to avoid it by keeping your personal details safe and secure both on paper and online.

When we think of identity theft, it’s easy to just see it as the work of evil masterminds on action films using fake passports to foil the police, however in reality stealing a person’s private information isn’t a fictitious storyline, it’s real life and happens every day.

 The impact of having your personal details stolen can be significant from people making purchases in your name to opening bank accounts, applying for credit cards or loans through to using your identity to traffic illegal items in or out of the country.

We’ve compiled some advice on how to prevent criminals from accessing your personal information in a bid to reduce the number of fraudulent incidents occurring.

 Offline:

  • Have confidential documents you no longer need such as school records, medical records or bank statements shredded.  Best practice is to have it shredded on-site, so you can see the data being destroyed. Have a look at the document shredding section on our website.
  • Re-direct your mail when you move office or home because your information could potentially fall into a fraudster’s hands.
  • Get copies of your credit card and bank statements and regularly go through the transactions to check for anything suspicious.  When not needed have the documents effectively shredded so they stay away from prying eyes.

 Online:

  • Keep your passwords complicated, but memorable by using a mix of capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters at around eight to thirteen characters long: e.g HappyHol1day!
  • Ensure that you have up-to-date anti-virus software installed on your computer.
  • Don’t access personal information or confidential information like work emails using public WI-FI (hackers can access public networks easily).
  • Download updates when your computer/device prompts you to do so, as they often contain updates security features.
  • Ensure only your genuine friends can see your personal information (Full name, date of birth and town you live in) on social media.

 If you believe you have become a victim of identity theft get in contact with victim support: www.victimsupport.org.uk.  If you require a shredding service or further advice on keeping confidential information secure, contact a member of our professional team on: 0800 781 1066.

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