This week is National Identity Fraud Prevention Week and, since 79% of Britons are still being careless with their personal details, is perhaps more relevant than you would think.

While we feel sure most Pocket-lint readers are fairly savvy when it comes to protecting identities, it doesn't hurt to have a reminder on steps you should be taking to protect yourselves:

· Keep your personal and confidential documents secure

· Always shred, using a cross cut shredder, before disposing of documentation ­ bank and credit card statements, utility bills, receipts, direct mail containing any personal information, mortgage applications, etc.

· Regularly check your bank and credit card accounts for unusual transactions

· Regularly obtain a copy of your credit report from credit reference agencies Callcredit, Equifax or Experian, and monitor it for discrepancies

· When you move home, redirect your mail from your old
address to your new address for at least a year

· Going away? If you're planning to be away from home, you'll want to make sure you don't leave any obvious clues, like a pile of mail on your doormat, contact Royal Mail about their "Keepsafe" service which will hold your mail for up to two months, and deliver it on your return

· Regularly check your bank and credit card accounts for unusual transactions

· Never give out any personal information to unidentified individuals or organisations who contact you by phone, email or face-to-face

· Visit www.met.police.uk/fraudalert/ for information on different types of fraud

· Never respond to emails asking for personal or financial information. Be especially careful when sending personal information over the internet

· If you receive an email that warns, with little or no notice, that an account will be shut down unless you reconfirm billing or security information, you should not reply or click on the link in the email. Instead, contact the institution cited in the email using a telephone number or website address you know to be genuine

· Use up-to-date anti-virus software and a personal firewall and, if your computer uses the Microsoft Windows operating system, keep it updated from the Microsoft website. Be extra careful if using internet cafes or any PC which is not your own and over which you have no control. If in doubt, a good place to get help and guidance on how to stay safe online is your bank's website. Check regularly for specific information and guidance on protecting your PC and yourself online

· Avoid emailing personal and financial information. Before submitting financial information through a website, look for the "lock" icon on the browser's status bar. It signals that personal information is secure during transmission

· Never give personal information to people calling from companies you have not dealt with before. Always check the identity of these people by calling them back. Obtain their office number from directory enquiries and then confirm their position with the switchboard before speaking to them

· If you have been a victim of identity fraud involving the use of plastic cards, online banking or cheques, the matter should be reported direct to the financial institution concerned. They will then be responsible for further investigation and, where appropriate, onward reporting to the police. Other incidents should be reported to the relevant organisation and, dependent on their advice, to your local police station