Ensuring our money is safe and secure at all times is vital for most of us – that’s one of the reasons we keep it in an account, rather than under the bed, after all. But with reports of new and ever more devious internet ‘phishing’ scams and telephone fraud cases appearing in the media with depressing regularity protecting the financial details that give access to our accounts is a priority.
Despite this, recent research by Royal Mail has uncovered that one in three people who move home forget to tell at least one financial service provider of their change of address – potentially putting them at risk of identity fraud.
Packing up and moving out
Moving home can often be a very stressful time. It can sometimes feel like your whole life is up in the air and you’re just waiting in limbo for the moment you’re unpacked and settled in. Alongside this, it could be a stressful time for your finances too. Whether buying or renting, the costs of paying for your new home or making your first rent payment can be expensive in themselves - not to mention the fact you may have to take time off work to shift boxes and unpack. So, the last thing you want to find out once you’ve settled in to your new home is that you’re missing money because you’ve been the victim of fraud.
According to the survey by Royal Mail, just over three quarters of home movers said they are concerned about identity fraud. But when a third of those moving addresses are not informing all of their financial service providers about this, they could be making themselves a direct target of the crime. Allowing your sensitive financial details to be sent to your old address could lead to someone else opening them and potentially using your details for fraudulent purposes.
That’s why it’s important to make sure you let your account providers know that you’ve changed addresses. If you have more than one account, you should inform each and update your contact information for all of them. You can also pay for your post to be forwarded to you for either 3, 6 or 12 months, in case you forget about a provider.
It’s not just moving house than can put you at risk. Previous research carried out for us in May revealed that many people are putting themselves at risk through common mistakes – such as sharing passwords and pin numbers with people they know.
From the research, we found that a quarter of internet banking users had shared their passwords with someone else and a third had done the same with their pin number. While many chose to share this information with just partners and close family, entrusting this information with anyone at all could put you at a higher risk of financial fraud.
The main reason our respondents gave for sharing this information was simply a matter of convenience - as half of those who shared details with their partner chose to do it so they could check their balance for them.
Although a partner or close family member is unlikely to steal money from any of your accounts, the more people who know your financial details, the more susceptible you could be to fraud. In 2013 alone, Action Fraud – the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre – received over 130,000 identity fraud reports, worth a shocking total value of £410 million (according to the Royal Mail).
It’s not just the immediate risk of others knowing your bank details you need to keep in mind, though, as sharing financial information is likely to breach the terms and conditions set out by your current account provider. If they can confirm that you willingly gave someone else access to your account before you become a victim of theft or fraud, they may not cover your loss.
And when half of home movers admit to receiving potentially sensitive financial information intended for the people who lived at their address previously, it’s a good idea to keep your account providers in the know. It’s also worth letting your mobile phone, TV, broadband, telephone and credit card providers know you’ve moved, as well as online services such as Paypal.
The last thing we want to see is any of our customers falling victim to fraud, so you can check out our guide to staying safe online here.
Financial Fraud Action UK also provides some great tips to help you prevent fraud, including this guide to safe banking online.
If you’re a thinkmoney customer and you’re planning on moving house soon, don’t forget to let us know so we can update your details. You can give one of our Money Managers a call on 08444 155 155 and we’ll get it sorted.