Fraud costs the UK economy around £193 million per year. Personal identity information is one of the most valuable forms of data targeted by criminals. Details like names, addresses, dates of birth and phone numbers as well as financial information can be used to steal an identity and open credit and bank accounts and apply for loans, benefits and official documents such as driving licences and passports, leading to an array of devastating issues for the victims.

Whilst identity thieves are well known for targeting online sources in their quest to acquire personal information, the fact remains that physical means like bank statements, tech devices and the contents of a wallet can all provide inroads for fraudsters.

So what measures, aside from online security, can we employ to safeguard our personal data and prevent identity theft? Let’s take a look.

Use a safe

A secured safe is the ultimate defence system against identity theft. Invest in one, secure it down and stash everything in it that could potentially present a thief with all they need to steal your identity. So passports; official documents that can be used as identification; pension documents; tax paperwork and bank books, cheque books and paying in books – put them all in there. Also be sure to secure your portable technical devices such as tablets and laptops overnight or when you leave the property, remembering that they will also usually provide access to your personal details.

Be wallet smart

A wallet or a purse is often a haven for personal details. Too many people write down passwords and PINs and keep them alongside bank and credit cards and driving licences showing address and date of birth details. All of this information put together is precisely what a thief needs to steal an identity. So segregate your data; carry less ID and NEVER write passwords or PINs down.

Operate a clean desk policy

At home or at work, if you keep your desk or kitchen table clear of confidential information then there is less chance of it being stolen. Never leave the office or home without first locking away revealing documents. Whether seen through a window or scooped up by an intruder, such paperwork could render your identity seriously at risk. If you have a home office, fit insurance approved locks to keep the area secured.

Shred it

Invest in a cross shredder, preferably one that is able to tackle expired credit cards and discs as well as paper. As soon as you have finished with paper documentation, or cards have expired, shred them. Any discs that contain expired back-ups or digital media you no longer need should also be passed through the shredder.

Dispose of it safely

Old mobile devices, laptops and computers and anything else that stores data must be disposed of safely. Recycling is the best way to go about this and you could use services such as the WeeeCharity, but it is vital to follow the correct procedures when it comes to wiping the device so that the data stored on it can no longer be accessed. Always reset the device to factory settings so that only the basic operating system is left and access to your data is prevented. Be sure to back up everything first. This Which guide on how to factory reset a computer may prove useful.

Report fraud

If you believe you have fallen victim to fraud then you should not hesitate in reporting it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre. You can contact them on 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting Action Fraud.

Tailored advice from Barry Bros Security

If you are looking to safeguard your personal data and keep your identity your own, Barry Bros Security can help. From safes and locks to intruder alarms and smart access control, we have everything you need to safeguard all that matters to you. Contact us today to take advantage of our six decades of experience, or call in to our London showroom for personalised advice. We look forward to being of assistance.