We've all seen the news stories on the television about hundreds of people who've been affected by scams, but how do you protect yourself against them?
How to avoid a scam:
- Bogus bargains: We're constantly looking for the best bargains and fraudsters know we're a price savvy society. Exercise caution when seeing adverts and offers where the discount is significantly below the normal price.
- Look for the lock: Use familiar sites to shop online and never purchase an item on a site unless it has the “https” and a padlock icon to the left or right of the URL. When using a new website for purchases, read reviews and see if other consumers have had a positive or negative experience with the site. Check your statements on a regular basis to ensure the correct amount has been deducted and that it is going to the correct place.
- Too good to be true: Voucher scams are on the rise and have been circulating on email, social media and online chat platforms, with Whatsapp a notable recent example. However tempting the offer looks, if you haven’t entered a competition its unlikely to be a credible offer. Don’t click and instead report the message to the online platform you are using.
- Think before you click: Pop-ups and email links are often a way for scammers to gain access to your online accounts and information. Don’t fall to the fraudsters - take a moment to consider how credible the website, company or person is sending you these online prompts. Attachments are also a key way hackers infiltrate your desktop to spread viruses, corrupt your files and access your information. Be wary of unexpected emails prompting you to open unknown attachments.
- Third party thumbs up: With holiday scams on the rise, ensure that when booking your break online the website you are using is endorsed by independent industry regulators such as ABTA or the Financial Conduct Authority, giving you peace of mind this summer.
- Personal information is like money; value it and protect it: When making a purchase online, be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete the transaction. Make sure you think it is necessary for the vendor to request that information. Remember, you only need to fill out required fields at checkout.
- If you don’t use it, lose it: Whether it is your old Myspace profile, a subscription to a dating website or an online shopping account you don’t use any longer, delete old online accounts and profiles that hold your personal information.
- Use safe payment options: Credit cards are generally the safest option because they allow buyers to seek a credit from the issuer if the product isn’t delivered or isn’t what was ordered, protecting you from possible scam services.
- Take your time: Speed and immediacy are part and parcel of today’s world, but we mustn’t give up our attention to detail in favor of a speedier, more streamlined process. Never save your payment details with a website – however inconvenient typing them in each time may be. The greater number of sites that have your payment details, the greater the points of vulnerability.
- Unique account, unique password: Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords. Whether it is your bank account, dating profile or favorite online shopping account, use different passwords made up of at least 12 characters, a mixture of upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers. Never write down or share your passwords.
- Tips from Laura flack, Head of Digital Safety at Barclays
- So do you think you could spot a scam? Find out by taking Independent Age's helpful quiz here.