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Identity theft warning after Hereford woman is left with debt
10:00am Tuesday 31st July 2012 in Hereford City
A HEREFORD woman returned home from the other side of the world to find that her identity had been stolen.
Cheryl Calloway was met by letters from debt collectors, bailiff notices and court orders when she arrived back in the city following four years in New Zealand.
The 53-year-old had been renting out her house in Luard Walk, Hunderton, through city estate agents while she was away.
It had been empty since last November, but after talking to neighbours this week Cheryl believes the house may have been used by youngsters for parties.
She has no idea how or when her details were stolen, but the bills show that someone began taking out mobile phone contracts under her name back in December last year and quickly ran up thousands of pounds worth of debt.
Cheryl is hoping her story will be a warning to anyone else who is going to rent their house out.
A spokesman for West Mercia Police said: “The nature of modern technology and communications means that people can fall victim to criminals both here and in other parts of the world."
Avoid identity theft
- Be careful when giving out personal information. Avoid giving anyone your credit card details over the phone, by mail, or the Internet unless completely sure it is secure.
• Protect your post. To stop a thief from going through your rubbish or recycling bin to get your personal information, tear or shred your receipts and bills.
• Keep credit cards safe. Minimise the information and the number of cards you carry in your wallet.
• Contact creditors as soon as possible if you are concerned about unusual payments on your bill.
• Never write down passwords and PINs for cards and bank accounts. Avoid using common details like your mother's maiden name, birth date, or phone number.
Should you find that your identity has been stolen, report it to the companies involved in the first instance. If there is evidence, they may pass this onto the police.