15 quick tips to protect yourself from online scams and fraud

Created February 6th, 2018 by Alex Watts

Today (February 6th) is Safer Internet Day, a campaign which strives to make the internet a more secure environment for everyone.

With the slogan “Create, Connect and Share Respect: A better internet starts with you,” Safer Internet Day 2018 promotes the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.

Stay safe online financially

However, it’s important that we all stay safe online when it comes to our money.

According to figures from UK Finance, £366.4 million was lost to financial fraud in the first half of 2017 alone, while a further £101.2 million was lost through authorised bank transfer scams. And, according to recent research, only 9% of people can actually spot a scam.

stay safe when shopping online

Here are fifteen quick tips to protect your identity and money from online scams

1. Never give any personal information (name, address, bank details, email or phone number) to people or companies before verifying their credentials.

2. Only allow someone to remotely access your computer if they are from a trusted source, such as your internet service provider.

3. Create passwords which are long, unique and use a mix of random numbers and lower and upper case letters. Make sure you change passwords regularly and don’t share them with other people.

4. Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall installed. Ensure your browser is set to the highest level of security notification to prevent malware issues and computer crimes. Also update your social media settings as many social media sites automatically set your default privacy setting as ‘public’. Facebook also has an option to remove the your profile from search engines like Google.

5. Install the latest version of your web browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, etc), which will have the latest security features.

6. Never open suspicious or unknown emails, email attachments, texts or pop-up messages – for example, an email with an unusually worded subject heading.

7. Remember that no genuine company will ever contact you to ask for your log-in details, such as your password or user ID – you should only need to provide this information when you are logging onto a service such as online banking. Do not trust emails like this, even if they look genuine.

8. Be extremely wary of post, phone calls or emails offering you business deals out of the blue. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

9. Before entering payment card details on a website, make sure the link is secure. This will be clear if there’s a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register. The web address should also begin with ‘https://’ (the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’) and the address bar or the name of the site owner will change to green, if you’re using the latest version of your browser.

10. Sign-up to Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code whenever you are given the option while shopping online. This involves you registering a password with your card company and adds an additional layer of security to online transactions with retailers.

ensure websites are verified

11. Destroy or shred receipts with your card details on and post with your name and address on. Identity fraudsters don’t need much information in order to be able to clone your identity.

12. If you receive bills, invoices or receipts for things you haven’t bought, or financial companies you don’t usually deal with contact you about outstanding debts, take action. Your identity may have been stolen.

13. You should regularly get a copy of your credit file and check it for entries you don’t recognise. You can check your credit score for free through websites like Noddle and Clear Score. You also have the legal right to see a copy of your credit report for £2, and you can request this from any credit reference agency that holds information on you.

14. If you’ve opened a scam email, don’t reply to it and don’t click on any links or pictures, or open any attachments. If you’ve already clicked on a link and opened a website, don’t give any personal information.

15. If you have been a victim of fraud, you should also be aware of ‘fraud recovery fraud’. This is when fraudsters pretend to be a lawyer or a law enforcement officer and claim they can help you recover the money you’ve already lost. This is also a scam.

Need help with fraud?

If you need advice about fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to discuss your situation or visit their website.
You can also visit Get safe online for more useful information.

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