How to protect yourself from UK mobile contract fraud

Mobile contract fraud isn’t talked about much but it is actually more common than you think. I’ve come across this type of fraud several times in the past month, thanks to friends sharing their experiences with me. Often the first time you realize someone else has taken out a mobile contract in your good name is when either you receive a bill and or debt recovery company sends you a letter.

The problem with not knowing about this is two fold. One, you have to prove you are a victim of fraud (you did take the contract out, didn’t you?) and two, it damages your credit worthiness, in other words your credit file. It’s the credit file which is the most important to you, given this is what determines whether you can obtain say a credit card, loan, hire purchase or mortgage. Can you see the problem?

The identity fraudsters only need your full name and address as well as some documentation i.e. utility bill to prove they live at the address, to take out a contract in your good name. I’d like now to highlight some simple steps you can take to protect your good name and credit file from the identity fraudsters.

Fraudsters use the mobile contracts for as long as possible before the mobile telecoms companies realize that no bill is going to be paid and have no option but to terminate the number. During this time the mobile device is used to make calls which are related to criminal activities and also for fraudulent activities involving the selling of stolen goods in underground forums, newspapers and online auctions.

In many instances (and I’ve experienced this) most if not all mobile telecoms companies operate a default credit limit *(i.e. £200) which – when reached – automatically prevents the caller from making any further calls until the bill is paid. So how do you protect your credit file and your good name in the event a fraudster purchases a mobile phone contract in your good name?

Here are three simple steps that you should take to protect your good name:

  • Set up CREDIT CHECK ALERTING – you can receive SMS and or email alerts within 7 days of any enquiries* to your credit file.  Equifax Identity Watch™ Lite provides CREDIT CHECK ALERTING, and it will only cost £2.99 per month.
  • CIFAS – UK Fraud Prevention Agency – more documents are required for any credit check – fraudsters don’t have all of these documents in most situations. This costs £20 for one year. You will have to renew each year.
  • Cancel postal delivery of your utility bills and banks statements. Arrange for your utility bills and bank statements to be made available online instead. These will not be emailed to you, as emails can be spoofed/phished.

*Note: There are THREE primary credit referencing agencies in the UK – Experian, Equifax and CallCredit. You will have to sign up to all three in the event the UK carrier/shop you brought from only uses one agency.

Safe surfing folks!

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