Identity theft

It may seem innocuous, but having a copy made of your identity document could make you a new victim of identity theft. So watch out when you take out a telephone subscription or gym membership and your ID needs to be copied.

Your personal information could fall into the wrong hands. It could enable fraudsters to assume your identity in order to make transactions or purchases.

Think twice before giving out ID, banking details or other confidential information to others unless you have a reason to trust them.

Criminal activity
Identity fraud is when stolen or forged identity papers are used to commit crimes under the innocent victim’s name.

With a stolen passport, criminals can open bank accounts, obtain a mortgage for a house or commit traffic offences by pretending to be someone else. The victim will only find out when the bills come pouring in.

Prevention
There are a number of steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of this type of fraud. Here are three basic steps:

1. Be stingy about giving out a copy of your ID
Should someone from a car rental company or a hotel ask you for a copy of your driving licence or passport, then make sure that it cannot be used by criminals.

This is how to proceed:

* write on the copy that it is a copy and for whom it’s intended;

* write down the date on which you provided the copy;

* cross out your citizen service number (BSN), both in the document and in the string of numbers at the bottom. Businesses and other organisations may only use your BSN if and when permitted by law.

2. Be careful when giving out information about yourself
Be aware of the sort of information you give out on social media or via email. Never hand over your personal particulars to strangers.

Don’t respond to so-called phishing emails which claim that you’ve won prize or need to confirm an account. By responding, you’re already revealing your name and email address.

3. Be careful with personal information on paper
Keep your important documents in a safe place. Bank statements, PIN codes and the code for the government’s secure login system DigiD DigiD code are yours alone.

Don’t throw out bank statements, mortgage papers or other documents anything with your name, address or financial details without shredding them first.

Change your passwords regularly, particularly the ones for DigiD and your email accounts.

How do you find out if your identity has been stolen or used to commit identity fraud?
There are a number of signs to watch out for, according to the Identity Theft Reporting Office (CMI).

* You receive bills or invoices with your name on them for goods or services you have not ordered;

* You receive bills or invoices for things you haven’t ordered, or when you receive letters from debt collectors for debts that aren’t yours;

* You receive letters from solicitors, debt collectors or bailiffs for debts you know nothing about;

* You spot dubious transactions on your bank statements or credit card statements;
* Your usual bills and statements are no longer sent to you;

* You are registered with your municipality under a different address than your home address without you having registered a change of address;

* You cannot get a loan because of a negative credit rating with the Bureau of Credit Registration (Bureau Kredietregistratie – BKR);

* You will see one or more unknown employers on your pension or tax statements.

What to do if you’ve become a victim?
If you believe that you’ve become a victim of identity fraud, you’re advised to take the following steps:

* Contact your bank. Block your banking cards and credit cards as a precautionary measure. Check your statements to see whether suspicious transactions have taken place;

* Go to your local police department to have an officer take a report;

* Contact the CMI. This organisation will assist you if your identity has been stolen or if your personal information no longer matches the data the government has of you.