Hundreds of thousands of homeowners are at risk of identity theft each year by failing to tell essential services and providers that they’re moving home.
According to research by the Royal Mail, up to 23% of home movers take at least two weeks to inform companies of their change of address, putting them at risk of identity fraud.
Forgetting to update your address with banks, credit card providers, utility companies, pension providers or other firms who send post to your door can increase the risk of identity theft, putting potentially confidential information in the wrong hands.
And, this might be more common than you think. One in five people did not tell their bank that they were moving house, a further 20% forgot to notify their insurance company and 21% failed to contact their local council.
This is particularly worrying considering that identity fraud is on the rise. Over the past five years, identity fraud has increased by 25%, according to the UK’s fraud prevention service, CIFAS.
So, what is identity fraud and how can you prevent it?
Here’s how to avoid identity theft when moving house.
Before we dive into identity theft prevention, let’s find out what exactly identity fraud is.
Identity theft is when someone uses your personal data, such as your address, name, social security number, birth date etc., to impersonate you.
Victims of identity theft can suffer all kinds of negative consequences. Identity fraud can have a direct impact on your personal finances and could make it difficult for you to obtain loans, credit cards or a mortgage until the matter is resolved.
Identity fraud occurs when the fraudster uses the stolen identity in criminal activity to obtain goods or services by deception. Someone who’s stolen your personal details can use them to:
The main form of identity theft that occurs when people move house is called ‘previous occupier fraud’.
This type of fraud happens when someone moves out of a house and the new occupant obtains the former occupiers’ personal details. Using this information, they can then fraudulently apply for loans, credit cards and other things.
The primary cause of previous occupier fraud is forgetting to update your address. If you’re moving house and put off changing your address with essential institutions until after you’ve moved, you are putting your personal details at risk.
Your mail from services and providers like your bank, HMRC, DVLA and utility companies will be sent to your old house and into the hands of a stranger.
So, with the risk of identity theft when moving home higher than ever, how can you avoid it?
It’s simpler than you might think to prevent identity fraud when moving home. Use our practical tips to avoid having your identity stolen:
So, what happens if you don’t update your address when moving and do end up having your identity stolen?
If you think you’re a victim of identity theft or fraud, you should act as quickly as possible to ensure you’re not liable for any financial losses.
Here’s what you should do if you’re hit by identity theft when moving house:
To avoid identity theft when moving home, make sure you update your address with all your accounts and services at least 2 weeks before moving.
Using SlothMove’s online change of address service, you can notify every single company that you’re moving home so that none of your mail is sent to your old address.
To get started with your online change of address, click below 👇
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