Protect your identity online, part 2

Published 12/05/2004 16:21   |    Updated 23/04/2008 14:23
How can I protect my identity online?


What risk does identity theft pose?


Your credit rating and reputation can be severely damaged.
You may even find out that you have a criminal record for crimes you have never committed. You may also incur debts for goods or services never purchased.

Credit card fraud:
Fraudsters can open new credit card accounts in your name. They then order goods but don't pay the bills and then the unsettled accounts appear on your credit card statement. They may even change your billing address, so you no longer receive bills, to run up even more charges on your account. Since your bills are now sent to a different address, it may be some time before you realise there's a problem.

Phone or utilities fraud:
They may open a new phone or wireless account in your name, or run up charges on your existing account.
They may use your name to get utility services like electricity, heating, or cable TV.

Bank or finance fraud:
They may create counterfeit cheques using your name or account number.
They may open a bank account in your name.
They may clone your ATM or debit card and make electronic withdrawals, draining your accounts.
They may take out loans in your name.
They may use your name, PPS number or national insurance number.

Government documents fraud:
They may get a driver's license or other official identity card issued in your name but with their picture.
They may use your name and PPS number to get government benefits.

Other fraud:
They may gain employment job using your PPS number.
They may rent a house or obtain medical services using your name.
They may give your personal information to police during an arrest - If they don't show up for their court date, a warrant for arrest could be issued in your name.
They may use your name, PPS number or national insurance number.



 What should a victim of identity theft do?

  • Immediately report the identity theft to your local Garda station.
  • Advise in writing your bank and other financial institutions you have accounts or dealings with.
  • Notify in writing the relevant organisation or website where the identity theft occurred.
  • Close any account that you know, or believe, has been tampered with.
  • Cancel any cards that you believe have been abused.



How can I avoid it from happening?

  • Be careful about revealing your personal details online. Be aware of how information is stolen and what you can do to protect your personal information from potential theft. Always monitor your personal information so you are able to uncover any problems quickly, and know what to do when you suspect your identity has been stolen.
  • Never respond to any unsolicited email or phone calls requiring personal information. No reputable company will ever ask for this kind of information.
  • Ensure that any website requiring confidential information has a secure connection. Always look for https:// at the start of the website address and check for the padlock icon in the website's browser window. Always pay attention to error messages that the browser will display if it suspects a site is suspect.
  • Never send personal or confidential information in an email.



Top Tips

  • Be suspicious of any emails or websites offering something too good to be true. Be wary of where you give your credit details online. Try to ensure that you get a reference about a website before you trust them.
  • Buy a shredder and shred confidential documents such as credit card statements and utility bills before binning them. Treat all rubbish and post with extreme care.
  • Monitor your bank account and credit card statements regularly and report any suspicious activity immediately.
  • Always ensure that any information is securely erased from old computers, phones and PDAs before giving them away or disposing of them.
  • Always take your credit card receipts and never throw them away in public.
  • Be careful about putting up personal information on the Internet or on a social networking or website profile. If you find your personal information posted somewhere on the Internet without your authorisation, demand that it be removed.




  • https://: When found at the start of a website’s address any information transferred to or from the website is secure.
  • Identity theft: when your identity is stolen by a criminal who then impersonates you and uses your personal details for fraudulent purposes.
  • http://: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol: method used to transfer web pages, information transferred is not secured between computer and web server.


External site:


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