Over 6.6 million people in Britain have fallen victim to internet scams and online fraud in the last year alone. The top problem is receiving inappropriate pop-ups followed by accidentally downloading a virus after opening a ‘phishing’ email, says Privilege Home Insurance. Visiting a fraudulent website or a website that's a copy of a real one is also prevalent among internet users.
The good news is there are simple steps you can take to keep your personal information safe:
Tips for avoiding online fraud
- Install anti-virus software on your laptop and any other personal devices and then keep it up to date
- Keep your passwords complex by picking three random words and add or split them with symbols, numbers and capitals: DuckSunC0ckta1l!
- Lost your wallet or had important documents stolen, or think your details have been compromised on a fake site? Consider Cifas Protective Registration to guard against identity theft.
- No legitimate organisation – including your bank and the police – will ever ask you to disclose PIN numbers or other security details in full, transfer cash to a 'safe' account or withdraw cash for anti-fraud purposes. Hang up immediately!
- Shopping online? Look for signs of a secure and encrypted connection on a website. There should be a padlock to the left of the website address. Click on it to see details of the verification, certification validity and the encryption connection
- If you're looking to earn extra cash, then beware fake jobs advertised online. If you're asked to pay for security checks or expensive training upfront, it's probably a scam. And if the job involves letting money be transferred through your account, then you could be a money mule – which is illegal.
- Ads can contain malware (hostile software). Take extra care!
- If you run your life from your mobile phone or laptop, then so could a fraudster. Buy yourself time if your device gets lost or stolen by protecting it with a password or PIN (and no, not 1234 or 0000!)
- Emails that contain links can contain malware or lead you to fake sites to capture your financial and personal details; visit websites independently instead
- The elderly and vulnerable can be particularly susceptible to fraudsters. Call them on the phone or drop by to chat to them about ways they could be targeted, and keep an eye out for any suspicious correspondence or activity
- Public wi-fi is vulnerable to hacking and impersonation. Take care and avoid making card payments or logging into sensitive apps such as mobile banking when on public wi-fi.
- For more money-saving tips, pick up the latest copy of Yours magazine.