Moving House? Here's How to Prevent Identity Theft UK

Find Out How to Avoid Identity Theft When Moving Home

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How to Avoid Identity Theft When Moving House

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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.

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What is Identity Theft?

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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.

6 Examples of Identity Theft

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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: 

  1. Credit Card Fraud

    Debit and credit card fraud occurs when someone uses your card without your permission. If you fail to update your address with your bank, someone could use your personal details to open new credit card accounts in your name.

  2. Driving Licence Identity Theft

    Fraudsters can use your driver’s licence to find out your address, driver’s licence number and other sensitive information. This is also the case for any correspondence sent from the DVLA. Thus, if you don’t change your address with the DVLA, your personal details could end up in dangerous hands.

  3. Account Takeover Fraud

    Account takeover is when someone gains access and takes control of one or more of your accounts without your knowledge or permission. At that point, they can use the account just as you would – even using it to make fraudulent transactions, transfer money or gain access to additional accounts.

  4. Online Shopping Fraud

    Online shopping fraud can occur when a criminal hacks into website accounts and uses your card information to make unapproved purchases. This commonly happens when shoppers use their accounts while connected via an unfamiliar wifi network.

  5. Social Security Identity Theft

    Your Social Security number can be incredibly useful to fraudsters, especially if they get their hands on other personal information that can be used with it to open fraudulent accounts in your name. This can lead to delinquent accounts showing up on your credit reports and affecting your credit scores.

  6. Tax Identity Theft

    This form of identity fraud happens when someone uses your personal information, including your address and Social Security number, to file a tax return in your name and collect a refund. 

How Does Identity Fraud Happen When Moving Home?

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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.

How to Prevent Identity Theft When Moving House

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: 

  1. Change your address as soon as possible

    The first thing you can do to prevent identity theft when moving house is complete your change of address in good time. The risk here is obvious – fraudsters could get hold of highly sensitive information, such as your bank details.

    But it’s not just your banks, the government, utility companies or your council that need updating, if you receive post from charities, retailers or cultural organisations, these will need to be notified too. Today, fraudsters have become much more sophisticated and they look to collect as much information as possible. First they obtain your address, then your date of birth, then it’s your bank details.

    To avoid this from happening you should use SlothMove’s online change of address service to notify all your services and accounts that you’re moving home, or contact them all individually to tell them. 

  2. Dispose of old documents and bank statements safely

    Many home movers assume that criminals wouldn’t bother searching through their recycling bins. Sadly, they’re wrong. Whether it’s the people moving in after you, or just a passerby, fraudsters will often look in your bins to find old documents with personal information on.

    To you, a document from 10 years ago might seem insignificant, but criminals have hit the jackpot if it contains your personal details. So, if you’re doing a big clear out before your move, it’s essential that you dispose of any documentation in a safe way. Shredding is often the best way to destroy paper documents – just ripping it in half won’t do.

  3. Back up all important files

    Unfortunately, laptops get stolen very easily, and they can also get damaged in transit during big moves.

    While most things are digitalised these days, it’s still important that you back up any important files on your laptop, ideally both on an external hard drive and on cloud storage.

    Once you’ve backed up your data, make sure your external hard drive travels with you, not in a box in the removals van.

  4. Check your bank statements regularly

    Once you’ve moved, make sure you check your bank statements to ensure there aren’t any dodgy transactions that you don’t recognise.

    If there are some transactions that stand out, it could suggest that your bank details have been stolen and that a fraudster is using your debit or credit card to make purchases in your name.

    If this happens, you should contact your bank straight away to notify them and freeze your card. This way, anyone with your personal details won’t be able to spend any money using your account. 

Identity Theft: What to Do if it Happens to You?

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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: 

  • o Inform your bank, building society and credit card company of any unusual transactions on your statement 

  • o Request a copy of your credit file to check for any suspicious credit applications 

  • o Report the theft of any personal documents and suspicious credit applications to the police and ask for a crime reference number 

Prevent Identity Theft With SlothMove

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, simply fill out the form below.

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