What can a scammer do with my address and phone number?
Published 16 December 2016
Details like your address and phone number make up your personal identity.
Your personal details include a number of things like your full name, address and telephone number. These details make up your personal identity.
One detail alone probably isn't enough for a fraudster to gain access to your financial information but it could be a piece of the puzzle. To help you understand what a scammer can do with two pieces of information – your address and phone number – we're taking you through the possibilities.
Think about the amount of times you give out your address or phone number. Whenever you buy something online, the shop might ask you for this. Social networking sites also request this when you set up an account.
Such websites can ask for your:
• full birth name,
• date of birth,
• telephone number,
• email address, and
• home town.
While there's no getting around the fact that online companies ask you for this information, you don't need to give it all. Only give what you need to in order to set up an account.
Choose who you connect with carefully on social media, as a simple post from your mother can help fraudsters work out your mother's maiden name – a commonly used password and security question answer. That's why it's best to put restrictions on your social media profile and make sure your friends or followers are people you know and trust.
You can find out more about how to be careful about the information you give out on social media here.
How you can be targeted
There are a number of ways that a fraudster can target you – we take you through how your address or phone number can be used against you.
Once a scammer has your phone number, it's likely that you'll start to receive unsolicited phone calls. They might pretend to be your bank, other financial institution or a well-known organisation – like the Financial Ombudsman Service.
The aim of this call is for you to believe you're talking to the genuine organisation and provide personal details, passwords and security numbers. Sometimes you'll be asked to give the person on the phone access to your computer as seen in the Microsoft phone scam.
You should never give out personal or financial details to someone who calls out of the blue. Your bank or thinkmoney will never call you and ask for your 4 digit card PIN.
Find out more about how to spot a vishing scam in our blog.
The same goes for your home address – you might start to receive unsolicited letters. These could include fake lotteries and prize draws, get-rich-quick schemes and investment scams.
You can sign up with the Mail Preference Service to prevent marketing letters. When registering to vote, you can check the box to opt out of the 'Edited register' to stop unsolicited marketing letters. Moving house? Don't forget to re-direct your mail to your new home.
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