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Article > Fraudsters Target UK Rental Market

Article kindly supplied by Mike Clarke

UK landlords and tenants are becoming prime targets for identity (ID) fraud as personal mail posted through the door of rented property is stolen and personal details are being used for illegal purposes.

One in seven tenants reported their post
intercepted within the last 12 months and for
some this has led to identity fraud.

Identity theft has become rampant around the world and protecting yourself is very important. If someone steals your identity it can take months or even years to clear up the financial mess they leave behind.

There are 2 main types of identity theft - Account Takeover and True Name Theft.

  • Account takeover identity theft refers to the type of situation where an imposter uses the stolen personal information to gain access to the person’s existing accounts. Often the identity thief will use the stolen identity to acquire even more credit products by changing your address so that you never see the credit card bills that the thief runs up.
  • True name identity theft means that the thief uses personal information to open new accounts. The thief might open a new credit card account, establish a mobile phone service, or open a new bank account in order to obtain credit or cheque books & credit cards.

The Internet has made it easier for an identity thief to use the information they've stolen because transactions can be made without any real verification of someone’s identity. All a thief really needs today is a series of correct numbers to complete the crime.

Identity theft crimes reported in the first 6 months of 2011 using fraudulent personal information obtained from intercepted mail include;

  • Bogus mobile phone contracts
  • Fraudulent transactions on shopping catalogue account
  • Bank account takeover
  • Sale of the landlord’s property by tenants.

However, the UK’s 19 million tenants in the private rented sector (PRS) are doing very little to help protect themselves. When moving over a third of tenants fail to redirect mail or leave a forwarding address so important post does not go missing.

Credit card statements, tax credit information, bank account details and pension details are among the important papers left to the mercy of strangers.

Over 85% of tenants claim to have received important post for the properties former residents or the landlord.

The type of personal information received through the post includes date of birth, national insurance (NI) number and credit card numbers – which fraudsters can use to take out loans, make illicit purchases or steal someone’s identity.

Only 36% of renters inform their bank when they move address.

Identity theft experts warn both landlords and tenants that they are at the greatest risk of this type of crime. Tenants in multi let properties (HMO’s) are more likely to share communal spaces such as hallways where mail can be easily intercepted, or they move more frequently making it harder keep track of confidential post.

Landlords who choose to receive mail at the property they rent out risk personal information falling into the hands of scammers.

As well as the more obvious methods like stealing post, fraudsters can use sophisticated ways to steal personal details like the internet by hacking into databases to steal personal information. However this type of ID theft is still a rarity.


There are suitable precautions to take that can help both tenants and landlords avoid falling victim to identity fraud, such as making a note of all the important post you receive and tell them you are moving;

• Use the Royal Mail Redirection service for at least 12 months
• Inform your Bank / Credit Card companies / Inland Revenue / DVLA of change of address
• Ensure that your employers / gym / local council and everywhere you have had to provide personal details to are informed
• Shred personal documents that contain sensitive personal information before putting in the rubbish / recycling bin
• Take out ID fraud protection insurance with your Bank / Building Society / Insurance company to insure you against the consequences of identity fraud and resolve your credit status

If you suspect your mail is being stolen contact the Royal Mail customer enquiry Line and check whether a mail redirection order has been made in your name without your knowledge.






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