How do we secure our identities following PC scam?

Dear James,

I think my husband took a cold-call on our home telephone from 'Microsoft' wanting us to buy a service to help our home computer run more efficiently.  The people on the other end of the phone took control of our computer and have access to the hard drive.  I am concerned about identity theft and our credit reference.  Do you have any advice?

Joanne, Luton

Dear Joanne,

You are right to be concerned because it’s very likely that the call you received was a scam, probably one designed to obtain and profit from your personal details. But you can make amends now by taking some swift but effective action. First, you need to shore up your computer. A good place to start is the Get Safe Online website, where you can get detailed guidance about running appropriate checks and, if necessary, installing anti-spyware and anti-virus software and a firewall. If you bank online it might be sensible to alert your bank(s) to the fact that your account details may have fallen into criminal hands, enabling them to keep a closer eye on your account. And you should do exactly the same yourselves with your personal credit histories. Start by ordering each of your credit reports – you can take advantage of our 30-day CreditExpert free trial if you haven’t already. Then check your reports to make sure everything is in order, paying close attention to any recent credit checks and, importantly, any linked addresses created by credit checks made from another address. If you need help you can call or email our contact centre. If any fraud has been attempted they will refer you to our Victims of Fraud team. You should both also consider arranging your own CIFAS Protective Registrations, which will sit on your credit reports at all three credit reference agencies and warn participating lenders to take extra care. Good luck. (November 2012)

James
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