Coinciding with the Ricky Gervais ID theft trial, is good fortune for Which? whose ID Fraud survey revealing that at least a quarter of us know somebody who’s been done, is making big headlines. I’m not convinced that just knowing somebody, a friend-of-a-friend perhaps, is that impressive. Everyone knows there are only six degrees of separation between us all: we should all know (or think we know…) a victim of ID fraud.
The real villains are the credit reference companies themselves who have compiled significant reports on everybody who has a credit card, mortgage or almost any other form of credit. I’ve already blogged on how easily identity gets confused in systems that don’t rely on turning us all into numbers after all: my namesake was refused a credit card. So I’ve no doubt Experian will be busy this weekend processing a record number of credit file requests, especially as you can get a credit report free of charge that’s far more detailed than the one the law obliges them to offer and for which you have to pay.
The trick is to sign up for a 30 day free trial and then cancel. The chances of you finding stuff on your credit file that confuses you with other people, places you at addresses you left years ago, shows you owing money you don’t and all manner of other sins you haven’t committed is alarmingly high. All of that is most likely due to error on the credit reference company’s part, rather than ID fraud. They don’t like being told they’ve got it wrong, but you should make them correct every little mistake, because little mistakes often lead to big mistakes. A one off check won’t protect you from ID fraud, of course. But if you’ve really been spooked by the scare stories, you don’t have to keep checking your money’s still there every five minutes. Pay Experian to send an e-mail or text every time someone checks your file, which should be the moment the ID fraudster applies for credit in your name.
Credit: checks, history, ID theft & fraud
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Visitors from the USA should try CreditReporting.com.