2015 has got off to quite a trying start. I had (and still have) some problems with my website www.susanshirley.me.uk. For some reason that neither I nor the hosting company can understand, it temporarily wiped all my information. Ok, it’s a static site and there is not that much on there, but that’s not really the point. The site was down for about 36 hours. The hosting company was, frankly, less than helpful, a decision they will regret when it’s time to renew my contract in 2016. When I tried to do a further update last night, the site wouldn’t let me make the changes, although I checked today and it was ok. ???????? I still have some updates to do it though, I’ve realised, so that should be fun.
Just after Christmas, I checked my credit file. I check it every month through a company called Noddle, which is free to join. Four separate credit checks showed up on 21 December, from insurance companies. I can assure anyone who is prepared to listen that I did not request any insurance quotes nor did I give any company permission to do any credit checks on me. The next thing I knew was that Equifax notified me that some checks had been done, and, lo and behold, more insurance companies had been doing checks on me. Miss Shirley was not amused.
Miss Shirley was even less amused when, having put the queries through to the credit reference agencies, two of the companies have refused to remove the checks (one agreed and the others are still outstanding). One of the credit reference agencies, unhelpfully in my opinion, told me the names of the companies to contact, but not name or address. The other one, at first, just replied and said that insurance companies may do credit checks when you ask for a quote. Really? And I thought it was just if I wanted to buy a pair of Jimmy Choos!
Now, you can call me paranoid if you want, but I think there is something decidedly dodgy about checks being done when I haven’t authorised them. I think it is even dodgier that, despite all the publicity about identity theft, it is virtually impossible to get anyone in an insurance company to give you a sensible answer as to how to deal with this. If you don’t believe me, check out the websites of a few of them: they give you a telephone number if you want car insurance, a telephone number if you want buildings and contents insurance, and so on, but do they give you a number if you are concerned about fraudulent checks? No, they don’t. At the risk of sounding like Queen Victoria, Miss Shirley was decidedly “not amused” yet again.
The Financial Ombudsman was far more helpful. They gave me addresses for the insurance companies, so I’ve now written to the offending companies, joined an organisation called Cifas (which is an organisation dedicated to prevent fraud, it’s not fee, but worth it to me) and have taken various other measures, so if anyone is trying to steal my identity, don’t waste your time, it’s not going to work, and I haven’t got any money anyway. I spent most of the morning on this, including notifying my bank, who have put a marker on my account, and this is all without being sure that any identity theft has taken place.
I’ll keep you updated about this as, I’m sure you can tell, my dudgeon is very high.
In the meantime, please do take care of your personal data. Don’t put your full date of birth on Facebook and the like, change your online passwords regularly, don’t use the same one for all sites (stop groaning, I know it’s a pain, but trust me, it’s better than the alternative). If you do think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, start here:
© Susan Shirley 2015