Spring Clean Your Credit File To Avoid ID Fraud
Millions of Britons are at unnecessary risk from identity fraud because they don't cancel unused credit facilities, according to online credit report and ID fraud alert provider MyCallcredit.
MyCallcredit Director Alison Nicholson explains:
"Too many people, when they decide to stop using a credit card, either stick it in a drawer or cut it up but that's not enough. Unless you tell the card company you want to cancel it, the card remains live. If a fraudster gets hold of the details they can rack up bills without your knowledge."
According to APACS there are more than 70million credit cards in use in the UK by around 30m adult cardholders(1).
"Each credit cardholder has an average 2.3 cards," added Ms Nicholson. "If just one in 10 of those cardholders has a card they don't use that's three million people who are needlessly increasing their chance of becoming a victim of ID fraud." added Alison Nicholson.
She continued: "Now is a good time for people to give their credit files a good spring clean, see if they have unused cards listed and then cancel them."
How does it work?
- If you cut up a credit card or leave it in your drawer it remains live and and on your credit file until you inform the lender.
- Cards remain 'live' until their expiry date and are normally reissued automatically.
- If the account is inactive a statement is not necessarily issued.
- A fraudster can access inactive credit facilities by obtaining personal information, change the address on that facility and continue to use it without the victim's knowledge.
- It can take a typical victim 60 hours work to prove they have been a victim of ID fraud. In extreme cases it can cost £8,000 and 200 man-hours to clear your name(2)
How to protect yourself
- Log on to www.mycallcredit.com and check your credit file.
- Write to lenders who are still listing a facility that you don't want and cancel it.
- In future, when you cut up a card or stop using it inform the lender immediately.
- Keep the cards you use safe and shred all personal documents before disposing of them.
"ID fraud is one of the fastest growing types of fraud in the UK but people can protect themselves from the inconvenience and cost of being a victim by simple administration of their finances. MyCallcredit even offers a text or email alert system which will inform someone within a few weeks if something on their credit file has gone awry,"
says Ms Nicholson.
- At the end of 2004 there were 30.6m holders of personal credit and charge cards with each holder having an average of 2.3 cards. (Source: APACS).
- It can take a typical victim between 3 and 48 hours work to prove their innocence. In the case of a total identity hijack, perhaps involving 20-30 lenders, the cost of proving innocence for busy people can be as much as £8,000 and take up to 200 hours (Source:CIFAS).