Fraud suffered by individuals costs victims £4billion per year!
It all seems very plausible when that email pops into your inbox:
Dear named person,
We are reacting to some recent security concerns about your account.
Please click the following link and login to review your records.
So you click the link, duly enter your login details and password and await the important notice that brought you there in the first place.
It’s not until it is too late, you realize that you are not in fact logging into paypal, or HSBC or any other of your genuine online accounts, but have instead been taken to a fake (but very convincing looking) website – then the panic sets in.
It is an all too common story these days and as the fraudsters are constantly evolving new ways of parting people from their valuable personal information it is an ongoing battleground.
Unfortunately there is no 100% foolproof way of ensuring you don’t fall foul of these tactics, however there are some good rules of thumb, which you can adopt – after all, most fraudsters are aiming for the easy targets so you should aim not to be one of them.
Steps to avoid online fraud
NEVER click a link on an email from your bank, paypal, ebay or any other company. The vast majority of legitimate business will never contact you in this way – they will simply ask you to login to your account in the usual way.
NEVER give out details on the phone – even if they already have some of your details. The chances are they have bought or hacked some basic details about you and are attempting to secure more valuable info like your passwords, login details, NI number or the CVT number on the back of your credit card – these are very important bits of info and should never be given out. Genuine callers will explain what the issue is and ask you to login to your account in the usual way.
NEVER use the same password across multiple accounts – it makes it much easier to gain access to other accounts like your bank. Even variations of the same word, or a word with numbers in it can make it easy to guess your details. Make it difficult for them.
NEVER be pushed into making a snap decision – most legitimate companies will allow sufficient time for you to consider your purchase, however you could possibly lose out on genuine discounts if they elapse before you make your decision. Ask yourself if it seems to good to be true – if it does then it probably is.
NEVER enter your middle name on social networking sites – this can be an easy way of finding sensitive information – so make sure you have checked your privacy settings and are happy with them.
NEVER send money to anyone in order to receive money – we have all heard of this sort of scam: “you have won a massive prize in the Nigerian lottery, all you need to do is send us £1000 to pay for the insurance and we’ll send you a cheque”. Needless to say it is nonsense – for a start when did you enter the Nigerian lottery for goodness sake! Also any legitimate prize would never require you to make a payment first.
ALWAYS use secure sites. Secure websites always have https in front of the web address – you should also see a padlock symbol on your browser, which indicates it is a secure site.
ALWAYS have a good anti-virus package / firewall installed on your computer. Preferably one that prevents spyware, as this can be used to send your login information to a fraudster.
ALWAYS check the feedback scores on online auction sites – most genuine sellers will have feedback scores of 98% or thereabouts.
ALWAYS be suspicious – your personal information is valuable and in the wrong hands can lead to identity theft, so be prepared to question anyone who wants you to give or ‘confirm’ your details.
ALWAYS be cautious dealing with sellers from another country – a lot of the protection in law is limited to our own country.
ALWAYS find a physical address for the company you are dealing with online – there is no legitimate reason to hide this from a genuine customer.
ALWAYS change your passwords frequently, don’t reuse the same passwords for different accounts and if you are worried change them.
These steps and a healthy dose of skepticism will prevent the vast majority of online fraud from happening to you. Remember if anything online, on email or on your phone sounds too good to be true, run away, or you risk becoming one of those depressing statistics.