Take Five week is an awareness campaign led by UK Finance offering a range of advice to help people protect themselves from preventable financial fraud, and encouraging the nation to stop and think before falling victim to some of today’s most prevalent scams.
In support of the campaign, Equifax, one of the nation’s leading credit reference agencies, is encouraging people to discover the power of their credit report in the fight against financial crime.
Credit reports are more commonly used to check whether someone is eligible for credit, and credit scores are primarily designed to help people get themselves credit ready, but they are also an extremely effective tool for spotting and stopping fraud from taking place.
Lisa Hardstaff, Head of Customer Experience for Equifax UK, explains: “Fraud is tragically even more of a problem in the UK than it was 12 months ago, and it’s not an exaggeration to say we’re currently in the middle of a ‘scamdemic’.
“Scammers prey on change and uncertainty, and we’ve had both of those in abundance over the past year. Together with an explosion of technology, we’ve all now sadly borne witness to many of the underhanded techniques employed by scammers to part us with our hard-earned cash.”
She continued: “Fortunately, we are not powerless in the face of this threat. As consumers, there’s lots we can do to resist the persuasive techniques of fraudsters, and Take Five week is a helpful reminder to ask ourselves if a call, text or email feels right, and not being afraid to say ‘no’ if it doesn’t.”
“The business community also has an important role to play in fighting fraud, and protecting consumers from exploitation, and credit reference agencies such as Equifax are a critical part of that vital security infrastructure,” Ms Hardstaff added.
Below are five ways credit reference agencies such as Equifax help to fight fraud that you may not know about.
1. Know your customer checks
Banks, credit providers and a wide range of businesses rely on credit reference agencies to verify that a person applying for credit is who they say they are. They do this by checking your details against a range of sources, including the electoral roll, borrowing history, and public record.
Millions of these crucial identity checks happen in the background every single day to protect us all against identity theft.
2. Live fraud alerts
Some credit reference agencies have automated checks in place which alert you if they find any of your personal data on websites commonly used by fraudsters.
This includes social media platforms, and even the dark web, where personal information is often sold to the highest bidder.
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Equifax’s WebDetect service allows you to add up to six email addresses, six telephone numbers, 12 credit/debit cards, six bank accounts as well as your driving licence and National Insurance numbers, and comes included when you sign up for your credit report.
3. Detailed reports of financial history
Credit reference agencies allow you to check your credit report at any time, so you can spot unusual activity that might influence your ability to borrow money in future. Any incorrect information should be reported to the agency that provided the report and they will help you get it changed.
These reports are updated daily and will alert you of any changes so you can readily spot anything untoward.
4. Added password protection
Some credit reference agencies offer a fraud prevention service that makes it much harder for criminals to try and guess your closely guarded login information, and locks them out quicker when they get it wrong.
In the battle against scammers, knowledge is power. Credit reference agencies such as Equifax work together with lenders and borrowers to create a fairer financial future for all, and that means helping people keep up to speed with the latest vulnerabilities. Over in the Equifax Knowledge Centre there’s a section dedicated to identity protection, with lots of accessible information on keeping you and your family safe from fraud.
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If you do find yourself on the receiving end of a scam call, email or text, Take Five, question why you are being asked for this information, and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’.
Report any unusual activity to your bank and Police Scotland via 101.
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