Privacy When Moving House
43% of cases of identity theft are linked to a previous address. In spite of this a quarter of British people fail to take precautions when they move house. If you’re moving, renting, or buying to let, you should be aware of the risks. Act now to avoid them.
How is Your Privacy Threatened?When most of us move house, we will probably inform the key people: banks, favourite shops, loyalty schemes, and employers. However, it could be a while before we inform everyone who sends us post. This means there is a lot of paper lying around that has your name and old address on it: easy for a fraudster to pick up and use to apply for a loan. The fraudster simply intercepts the mail on its way back to your old address and continues to draw cash out, while you remain unaware of the trail left behind you.
Even the very careful can become victims of fraudsters. CIFAS (The UK’s fraud prevention service) cites the case of a couple who redirected their mail and removed themselves from the electoral register in their old home, only to find themselves targeted by identity thieves six months after the move. The cunning fraudsters had re-registered the man onto the electoral roll, set up a company in his name and accumulated hefty debts and bills for utilities. The couple only found out when their credit card application was refused.
If you don’t own your home, then be aware of tenants who share a mailbox with you. It could be easy to intercept your post and use it to apply for a loan. Similarly, landlords should be particularly careful: many cases have been recorded where tenants have moved in and adopted the landlord’s identity to become rather better off. Fraud experts at Experian recommend getting a credit check carried out on any potential tenants to make sure they don't have a history of being refused loans.
What can you do?Use our checklist to make sure your risk is minimised when you move:
- Ask for a private mailbox and make sure you redirect your mail when you move home.
- Keep an eye on your own credit record, which will show up any problems.
- Request a credit check on any potential tenants.
- If you are concerned about previous or existing tenants, simply check your own credit record. This doesn’t cost much and will reveal any applications that have been made in your name.
- Ensure that previous tenants have redirected their post (a service offered by the Post Office).
- Before moving, scour the house for personal documents.
- Redirect the post, giving the names of every family member.
- Register your old and new addresses with the Mail Preference Service to avoid junk mail.
- Inform as many companies as you can about your move, particularly your bank and organisations with whom you hold cards or accounts.
- End utility and telephone contracts before you move out of the house.
- If putting your belongings into storage, ensure there is nothing personally identifiable in the cases.
- Keep a close eye on your credit record after moving home.