Don't end up paying a heavy price for the convenience of online banking
But protecting yourself is straightforward – like keeping the door locked or your purse out of sight.
Online fraud is called ‘phishing’, hooking you in with a plausible story and, when you respond, stealing details and passwords. Figures from the UK Cards Association have shown that phishing attacks have quadrupled in four years.
The hook can be an email that appears to come from a bank or building society, the taxman, or even the Student Loans Company. It will tell a plausible story, often that there is a security issue on your account. It will ask you to click on a link or open an attachment. This is the moment of danger.
The link or attachment could download a virus, or a Trojan, onto your computer, which can then steal data, turn your machine into a ‘slave’ that sends out other emails, or just sit there until activated.
Never, ever click on a link or download a document in an email from someone you don’t know. Delete it at once. Keep anti-virus software up to date and change your passwords regularly. That way you should be safe online. And if you do lose money through online fraud the bank will normally reimburse you.* Read Paul Lewis's personal finance articles every month in Saga Magazine.
How to avoid email scams