There’s been a lot in the news about online fraud recently so we thought it was a good time for a roundup of some of the things you can do to help keep yourself safe online.
- You know this already, but if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When you’re buying anything online, make sure it’s from a company you trust. Those Google results marked as ads can easily be fraudulent.
- The same goes for emails. Don’t open messages or click on any links from senders you don’t know. They could be a phishing attempt to steal your personal information, trick or blackmail you into paying them money or install a virus that gives them control of your computer. Even if you think you know the sender, double check before clicking on any links. Some of the smartest scams involve sending emails that look almost identical to those you get from the legitimate company; the fraudsters are relying on you being on autopilot. A few things to look out for:
- Random numbers or letters in the sender’s email address
- A wonky logo
- Spelling mistakes
- No official email footer.
- You should be wary of unexpected phone calls and text messages. If someone is claiming to be calling from a financial institution, you can check their details against the FCA Register. Even if you think the caller is from a legitimate organisation – like HMRC or your bank – if anything sounds unusual to you, just hang up. You can always contact the genuine company to double check if they were really calling you.
- Never give out your personal details. Common scams ask you to re-enter your password or bank details for security reasons, or to share your address, pension, insurance or investment details.
- Always double-check the recipient details before making bank transfers. If you discover you’ve been a victim of fraud and you made the payment direct to a bank account, it can be difficult to recover those funds. (Debit and credit card transactions and purchases made through PayPal or trusted marketplaces like eBay and Amazon have some protection so there are ways to get your money back following fraudulent activity.)
- Use strong passwords! As tempting as it is to use the same passwords for everything, try and keep them unique and make sure they’re at least eight characters long and a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Where you can, also turn on two-factor authentication. Never share your passwords and change them immediately if you think your accounts have been compromised on any websites.
Stay safe out there!