Couple speak out after fraudsters steal their identity three times in past month
PUBLISHED: 08:27 30 January 2019
A couple in their 70s have spoken about the stress of having their identities stolen three times in the past month.
Beryl Hughes, 70, and her husband Howard Hughes, 74, live on Wherry Road, Norwich, and have been targeted by fraudsters taking out credit cards in their name then breaking into their mail box to retrieve them on three separate occasions since December 17.
The couple first realised their identities had been stolen when they received a Barclaycard in Mr Hughes’ name on Monday. December 17, despite not having an account with the bank.
Along with the card, they found several rolled up newspapers wedged in their letter box, padded out with black bin liners to keep it propped open.
Mr Hughes said: “We thought it was very strange and what’s even scarier is no pin number arrived, so whoever created the account obviously got to it before we did.”
Barclays cancelled the card but just weeks later the couple received a second card from TSB.
Mrs Hughes said he was shocked, particularly as a year earlier they had reported a similar incident to TSB and been told they had been added to a fraud protection list.
TSB said the card was sent to the couple in error and that fraud awareness markers on Mr Hughes account had prevented a new credit account being opened but warned them to shred the letter containing the pin number when it arrived.
Just days later, on December 26, the couple received a letter from credit card specialists Tandem Bank, letting Mr Hughes know his application for a card had been unsuccessful due to a low credit rating.
Although the attempt was declined, Mr Hughes said he feared it was only a matter of time before the fraudsters succeeded.
He said: “This sort of thing can cause serious mental health issues as the stress of being held accountable for these people gets too much.”
A spokesperson for Action Fraud said the team was in the process of assessing Mr Hughes’ reports and warned people to look out for signs their post boxes had been tampered with.
Action Fraud’s tips for protecting yourself from identity theft
• Make sure your letterbox, or the place where your mail is left for you, is secure and cannot be accessed by anyone else. Report any damage to your landlord or letting agent immediately.
• Don’t leave mail uncollected for long periods of time – pick it up as regularly as possible.
• If you are changing your address make sure you tell your bank, card issuer and other important organisations that you deal with immediately.
• If you are not going to be able to pick up your mail for a few days, ensure that someone trustworthy can collect it instead, or consider using a mail collection service.
• Know the dates you are due to receive bills and bank statements, and where possible receive these documents electronically.
• If your bank offers the option, consider picking up new cards or chequebooks in person.
• On moving house, use a mail redirection service.
• If you suspect your mail has been stolen, contact the sender immediately and Royal Mail.