The excitement of a fresh new year can mean that telling organisations about a new address, or disposing of personal documents securely is the last thing on your mind. Unfortunately this creates opportunities for an ID fraudster to get their hands on your personal information.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is campaigning at Universities across the country, urging students to protect themselves against identity theft by thinking before giving information away. It is advising them to update organisations with changes to personal details and to dispose of personal documents such as bank statements and bills securely.

The ‘Protect and respect’ campaign is really spelling out the need to check websites are genuine, read and understand privacy policies and remember that what goes online often stays online for years to come. Employers are now scanning social networking sites like Facebook to view potential employees, so those embarrassing drunken photos and comments may come back to bite you!

The ICO’s top tips to avoid ID theft

• Store any documents carrying personal information, such as your driving licence, passport, bank statements, utility bills or credit card transaction receipts, in a safe and secure place.

• When no longer needed, shred or destroy your personal documents so that nothing showing your name, address or other details can be stolen.

• When you move house, make sure you update organisations such as your bank, mobile phone provider, energy providers and The Royal Mail with your new address – you don’t want the new tenants to have access to letters containing your personal information.

• Remember, less is more. The less you give away about yourself, the lower the risk of information falling into the wrong hands.

• Think before you buy – use a secure website which displays the company’s contact details, look for a golden padlock symbol, clear privacy and returns policies and user agreements!

• Visit the Facebook group ‘Padlock Your Privates’ for more student friendly information.