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National ID Fraud Month - October

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Identity fraud or, as it’s sometimes known, identity theft describes the acquisition and misuse of one individual’s personal details by another, usually unknown, individual. These details are then used to fraudulently purchase goods or access credit, leaving either the victim or their bank with maxed-out cards and devastating bills.

The National Fraud Authority (NFA) estimates that identity fraud costs those unfortunate enough to fall foul of its snares more than a billion pounds every year. In 2012 alone, nearly 10% of the population was affected by identity fraud in one form or another.

As horrifying as it all sounds, there are a number of methods for safeguarding yourself against this very real threat. Obvious steps include taking care with your details while you’re online, never sharing account numbers or passwords, and thoroughly checking the validity of emails that appear to be from banks asking you to update your details.

Another practical action that both private citizens and businesses of all sizes are encouraged to participate in is shredding. Innocuous-seeming sheets of paper like bills and receipts can be gathered and manipulated by maliciously-minded individuals to form the basis of an identity-related attack. Depending on the volume of your shredding and the sensitivity of your documents, there are a number of machines on the market that will turn your sheaves of vital information into mounds of indistinguishable fragments.

Don't forget your shredder oil