Protect Your Personal Information

Make sure that you use your passwords, credit card details, PIN number and any other personal information carefully and that you keep these safe and secure. Do not disclose details of any of these to third parties.

For example:

1. Guard your PIN number while using cash machines (ATMs) and make sure that you do not allow yourself to get distracted whilst using these machines. Criminals use a technique known as shoulder surfing to obtain your PIN number and may also use an accomplice to bump into you or somehow distract you while they steal your bank card. Look around for anyone acting suspiciously or loitering nearby before you use a cash machine. If you ask for a receipt, keep it. Do not throw it away near the cash machine.

2. Never throw away entire bills, receipts, bank card slips or bank statements. Destroy these documents before they go in a bin, for example, by cutting them up or shredding them.

3. Be plastic smart:

  • Do not carry cards around with you if you do not need them. When you are not using your cards, keep them securely at home or, if you are away from home (for example, in a hotel) keep them in the safe.
  • When you are buying something using a card, do not let it out of your sight at any time. This can help guard against skimming - which is when someone to whom you hand over your card (for example, in a petrol station or take-away) obtains another record of your card details, usually to clone the card.
  • If any of your cards are lost or stolen cancel them immediately. Keep a note to hand of the emergency numbers to call to do this or programme them into your mobile phone.
  • Be careful when giving card details or personal information over the phone, on the internet or in a shop – make sure that you cannot be overheard or overlooked.

4. Be postal smart:

  • Be extra careful if you live in a property which can be accessed by other people and where mail is left in communal areas.
  • Make sure you know when to expect regular bills and statements, and follow it up if they do not arrive - they may have been stolen.
  • If you move home, give your bank, card issuers and all other official bodies details of your new address as soon as you can. The earlier you can provide people with your new address, the less chance there is that something like a bank statement will be delivered to a former address where someone may open it and try to use the information within for fraudulent purposes.
  • You can obtain a copy of your personal credit file from a credit reference agency to see if it includes any entries that you do not recognise. If you find any such entries, refer the matter to your local police station and ask for a crime reference number. You will need this to help correct your credit record.

5. Be password smart:

  • Choose passwords very carefully - never use obvious things like your account name, date of birth or email address as a password. Try to use different passwords for different accounts otherwise, if a thief manages to get access to one account, they may be able to access them all.
  • Try to ensure that your passwords and other log-in details are unique and could not easily be guessed by anyone else.
  • Try to memorise your passwords and other security information - do not write them down for someone to find and use.
  • Never store your password for online banking or any other financial dealings on your computer. It is much safer to type in your password each time you access the service.
  • Remember to log out fully at the end of any online session.

6. Close any accounts that you no longer use. It is easy to miss rogue transactions that involve a dormant account.

7. Try to avoid accessing personal information in a public place. If you need to do so, whether at work, in an internet café or a library:

  • make sure that no one is looking over your shoulder at the computer screen;
  • never leave the computer unattended; and
  • close down the internet browser program when you have finished, this will clear any security information from the computer.

If you think that someone else may know your PIN number or one of your passwords tell the relevant financial firm or business straight away, they will tell you what to do next.


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