Skip to content
Back Back to Insurance menu Go to Insurance
Back Back to Holidays menu Go to Holidays
Back Back to Saga Magazine menu Go to Magazine
Search Magazine

Seven ways to protect yourself from identity theft

Harriet Meyer / 05 June 2015 ( 17 January 2020 )

In 2018 there nearly 190,000 recorded incidents of identity fraud. Follow our seven tips to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.

Shredded bank statements and personal documents
Shred bank statements to prevent crooks from getting your bank details

Many of us worry about the risk of personal details falling into the hands of fraudsters keen to part us with our money.

After all, each year millions of us are victims of identity theft. So what can you do to safeguard against this? Here are seven top tips:

Check your credit report for signs of identity theft with Experian's free 30-day trial*

1. Shred sensitive documents before throwing them away

This includes bills, bank statements and anything with account details included. Ideally, buy a shredding machine to do this efficiently. Likewise, cut up expired credit or debit cards.

How can I safely dispose of important personal documents and computer data?

2. Redirect your post when you move

If you move home, ask Royal Mail to redirect your post for at least six months so important documents don’t fall into the wrong hands. This gives you time to change your address with any financial or utility providers you may have forgotten about.

How to deal with wrongly delivered post

3. Be wary of suspicious emails

You know the ones. They don’t come from email addresses you recognise, and often claim to be from your bank or a government department. 

Sometimes, poor spelling and grammar can be a giveaway. Whatever you do, don’t click on any links or attachments in an email unless you’re sure they’re valid.

Signs an email may be a scam

4. Protect your account numbers and passwords

Don’t carry these around with you in your wallet or bag. This may seem obvious, but it’s surprisingly easy to scribble a number on a piece of paper, say, and forget about it.

Beware of phone calls claiming to be from your bank asking for this information, as this is a tactic often used by fraudsters. Your bank will never ask for your PIN or password.

Not sure what identity fraud is? Read our guide.

5. Make your password hard to guess

When coming up with any personal passwords, try not to make them obvious. So avoid using a pet’s name or mother’s maiden name, for example. Use a random mix of numbers, punctuation and letters for the strongest passwords. The longer they are, the better.

Seven password mistakes to avoid

6. Check your credit report regularly

Use a credit reference agency, such as Experian, to see if anyone has applied for credit in your name. 

Spotting unusual activity on your credit report can be an early indicator of identity theft, meaning you can take steps to resolve the fraud before you’re financially impacted. 

If you suspect or fear you have had your identity stolen or been a victim of fraud, act fast and contact your bank, the service provider in question, and your credit reference agency as well as Action Fraud or call 0300 123 2040

Read our guide for victims of identity fraud

Use our free Equity Release calculator.

7. Monitor your accounts

Regularly scanning your bank and credit card statements is sensible. 

Check for any rogue entries, no matter how small, and notify your bank if you’re concerned. 

This is essential if you want to spot fraud early, as sometimes thieves make regular, small transactions so that people take time to pick up on money being taken.

Can criminals steal money from contactless cards?

*For CreditExpert a monthly fee of £14.99 applies after your free trial. You may cancel during your 30-day trial without charge. New customers only. Free trial period starts on registration - further ID verification may be required to access full service which may take up to 5 days.

Try 12 issues of Saga Magazine

Subscribe today for just £34.95 for 12 issues...


Saga Magazine is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site or newsletter, we may earn affiliate commission. Everything we recommend is independently chosen irrespective of affiliate agreements.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.