Cases of identity theft are continuing to rise and a survey by John Lewis Insurance found that UK residents are taking unnecessary risks with their identities.
John Brady, Head of Commercial at John Lewis Insurance tells you what to look out for and how to protect yourself.
Q & A with John Brady
Q. What’s your background and what experience do you have in providing advice about Home Insurance and identity theft?
A. I've worked in financial services for 20 years, including banking, credit cards and insurance. The last five have been spent at the John Lewis Partnership, where I helped to launch and develop John Lewis Insurance, including our personal insurance cover for cars, travel, pets, weddings, events, and of course, homes. Identity fraud is a growing issue and customers are increasingly asking for protection against it.
Q. What is identity theft?
A. Identity theft is the theft of your personal identification. If this information is taken, it could be used to open bank accounts and get credit cards or loans in your name, as well as documents such as passports and driving licenses.
Q. How much of an issue is ID theft?
A. A recent study by John Lewis Insurance showed that one in six of us fails to destroy documents like bank statements, receipts and invoices before throwing them away. And as the internet – both at home and on smart phones - becomes increasingly popular for business and entertainment, the number of ways that criminals could access our information is increasing.
Q. What are some common risks people take with their identity?
A. Carelessly discarding personal information leaves millions of Britons open to identity theft. During the 2011 study, John Lewis Insurance found six high-risk documents in an average household recycling box.
People also take risks on the internet by using passwords that can be easily guessed or using the same password across multiple accounts. The most secure passwords contain lowercase letters, capital letters, numbers and symbols – try using a phrase rather than a random mix of characters as it will be easier to remember but tough for anyone to guess.
Despite identity theft being a growing crime, it seems the advice about keeping personal information safe isn’t getting through and people are continuing to take risks.
Q. What should I do if I suspect my identity has been stolen?
A. If you think you might be the victim of ID theft, start by contacting your bank or building society. Check your statements to make sure that you know what all the transactions are.
Getting a copy of your credit report is also a good idea. This will show any outstanding debts and you’ll be able to make sure that all applications for credit have been made by you.
If you discover that your identity has been stolen, you need to notify the police within 24 hours, as well as any relevant banks or credit card companies.
Q. If my identity does get stolen, how will my John Lewis Home Insurance policy help me?
A. John Lewis Home Insurance provides Identity Theft Cover. You’ll have access to our Identity Theft Helpline that will provide you with full assistance and guidance in recovering your identity if it has been fraudulently stolen.
We’ll pay up to £50,000 to cover costs you have to pay to defend your name and restore your credit status, or any lost wages if you have to take time off work to meet with police or legal counsel.
Read our Policy Details for the full list of things we’ll cover.
Q. Have you got any expert tips for us?
A. There are lots of really simple things you can do to help prevent you becoming a victim of identity theft.
- Make sure you shred anything with your name, address or financial details on before throwing it away.
- Check your bank and credit card statements carefully and report anything suspicious to the company concerned.
- Make sure you have up to date anti-virus software installed
on your computer.
We have carefully selected Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc to underwrite John Lewis Home Insurance.
Terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and eligibility acceptance criteria apply.
John Lewis Insurance is a trading name of John Lewis plc. Registered office: 171 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5NN. Registered in England (No. 233462). John Lewis plc is an appointed representative of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. John Lewis Home Insurance is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc (No. 93792). Registered in England and Wales at St. Mark's Court, Chart Way, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 1XL. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register No. 202323). Calls may be recorded and monitored.