As it’s almost Christmas and with lots of sales going on, more people will be shopping both online and in-person. It’s important that you are aware of hacking and fraud. In this article, I’ve shared some hints and tips on preventing fraud and being hacked online.
“Fraud remains a significant problem in the UK. A recent report concluded that online fraud
spiked during the pandemic with an estimated £2.3bn lost by customers in 2020.” Financial Times, July 2021
One of the types of fraud that you need to be aware of is identity fraud. This is where criminals steal your personal information and use your details to do things like:
- Open bank accounts.
- Get credit cards, loans and state benefits.
- Order goods in your name.
- Take over your existing accounts.
- Take out mobile phone contracts.
- Get genuine documents like passports and driving licences in your name.
Identity fraud can have a direct impact on your personal finances. It can make it difficult for you to get loans, credit cards or a mortgage.
To keep your personal information safe:
- Always protect your computers and mobile devices with a strong password and up-to-date antiviruses. For mobile apps, only download those which are reputable, from official stores found on your mobile devices such as Apple App Store or Google Play Store
- Keep documents, bank cards and cheque books in a safe place
- Report lost or stolen cards, passbooks or cheque books straight away
- Never share or give out personal details. Keep your account number, PIN, password, card reader passcode or one-time codes safe
- Choose to get online statements (go paperless), if possible
- Safely store or shred statements and receipts containing financial details
- Take care using social networking sites. Popular sites are targeted to harvest personal financial details so don’t share unnecessary personal details
- If you move home, redirect your mail to your new address
In addition to this, to prevent hacking, here are some tips and tricks as well as things to look out for when you’re navigating the web, to help protect yourself online.
Use a secure password:
- Always have a strong, secret password that can’t be easily guessed like your pet names or your address Make them long and mix numbers, letters, uppercase and lowercase
- Don’t share your password with anyone
- If you get hacked, change your password immediately
Lock your devices
- Put a passcode to prevent theft
- For your laptops or computer, always have a password and lock your computer when you are away
Don’t post personal information:
- Be mindful before your post anything on social media. For example, don’t let people know when you are going to be away otherwise criminals will know your property will be empty and vulnerable to break-ins
- Never put your address details, phone number or date of birth on a public website, forum or social network. If you have to fill in this information, make sure you change the settings to private as soon as you can
- For public forums, use a nickname to make sure you are anonymous
- No bank details should ever be shared online. If you need to share these with a family member, either phone or do an internet transfer
- Don’t respond to click links from an email from any organisation such as your bank or PayPal or shopping website. Always go onto the official site to update your details. If in doubt, call your bank to see if it’s genuine
- Don’t open email attachments from people you don’t know
- If you get an email from a friend asking for money, call your friend to check as their email may have been hacked
- Have a unique password for your home WiFi
- When internet banking, make sure you follow all the bank’s recommended safety procedures
- Always sign out of your accounts if you are using a work or public computer
- Be careful when you use a public WiFi network as it is less secure. You may want to avoid logging in to any website that needs a password
- Don’t reply to cyberbullies. Instead, ignore them, block them, and report abuse
Only shop on secure, trusted websites
- Make sure you have antivirus and firewall software installed on your computer
Be safe, shop wisely and say no to cybercrime.
By Mukesh Malhotra, Chair of Thamesbank Credit Union