Shoppers and businesses are being warned to expect a fraud surge ahead of Black Friday on November 26 and Christmas.
Credit card application fraud is likely to peak over the period, according to credit checking company Experian, which analysed data from the National Hunter fraud prevention service.
Criminals are looking to take advantage of an increase in genuine applications to attempt to access credit using stolen personal details, Experian said.
Eduardo Castro, head of identity and fraud Experian UK and Ireland, said: “The UK is experiencing a severe wave of fraud which shows no signs of abating and it is highly likely, as many of us head online to do Christmas shopping, that the trend will be even more pronounced over the next month.
“The risk is to both businesses and consumers.”
Here are Experian’s tips for shoppers to protect themselves against identity fraud:
– Do not share too much personal information on social media, such as your mother’s maiden name, home address or when you are away. Make sure privacy settings are up to date across all platforms.
– When you move house, always re-register on the electoral roll as soon as possible. This helps ensure your details are no longer registered at your previous address. It is a good idea to set up mail redirection for a while too.
– Have an individual unique password for each online account. This means fraudsters are less likely to gain access to multiple accounts.
– Ensure your home wifi has a strong password, do not sign in into password-protected accounts on unsecured public wifi and make sure you have up-to-date antivirus software.
– If you receive emails or text messages, always be cautious about attachments, links or telephone numbers. If in doubt, visit the company website and contact them directly.
– Check your credit report, for free, on at least an annual basis to look for anything suspicious. If you are a victim of fraud, check your reports, for free, with all the main credit reference agencies. You can then review all information that does not belong to you. Ask the credit reference agencies to dispute the fraudulent information with all relevant companies and lenders. A notice of dispute can be added to the fraudulent information.