Fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated with the tactics they use to get hold of personal information like your address, date of birth, bank or credit card numbers, so they can steal your cash.
Checking your credit report regularly can help you spot the warning signs of identity theft*
Beware of falling victim by brushing up on some of the most common tricks, such as fake websites or malicious viruses.
Here are five to watch out for:
1. Phishing emails
These are emails aimed at stealing your identity by ‘phishing’ for information. Scammers pretend to be trusted organisations, such as your bank, to try to get you to disclose details that you wouldn’t otherwise give out.
They may tempt you to input information by stressing a sense of urgency, for example threatening to close your account down if you fail to do so.
These bogus emails often include attachments or links that you should avoid opening, as they could be designed to install malware on your computer that will get hold of personal information.
So if you receive a suspicious email, don’t open it and make sure not to click on links. Delete the email straight away and report it to the service provider in question.
2. Unsecure websites
With many of us doing all our shopping online, it can be easy to click through to the payment page and give our financial details without checking the site’s security setting.
First, check that the website is secure by looking for a padlock symbol in the address bar. The website address should also start with https:// (the 's' at the end of https stands for 'secure', which means information you input will encrypted, and not easy for the bad guys to intercept).
Signs an email may be a scam
3. Viruses with key capture
Sometimes you may unwittingly find your computer suffers a virus that logs every key you press on your keyboard. This can capture passwords, credit card numbers and everything you type.
So take care when it comes to what you download and run on your computer. Install and make sure your virus protection is up-to-date to prevent against unwittingly installing any dodgy software.
Also make sure to turn on your firewall. This should hopefully stop many viruses in their tracks.
Read about the seven simple steps you can take to protect yourself against identity fraud
4. Calls to ‘confirm’ your personal information
It may sound obvious that you shouldn’t give your personal details out over the phone, but a number of recent phone scams have resulted in many people suffering financial loss.
Remember, your bank will never ask for your PIN or password over the phone or via email. If you’re in doubt, hang up and call back on the official number of the bank or organisation (it should go without saying that you must look this number up, rather than ask the potential scammer on the other end of the phone for the number of head office!).
It might also be worth waiting for a short time, in case the criminal hasn't hung up and is hoping to eavesdrop on your conversation with the bank - find out more: Avoid getting caught by a phone scam
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5. Unsecured WiFi networks
Remember that unsecured public WiFi networks (ie, those that don’t require a password) are riskier than secured networks and can be targeted by cybercriminals to mine for information.
So be aware of the information you’re sharing when on these networks and, where possible, try to use a secured network when sharing financial information. This means it’s far less likely to be accessible to thieves.
If you suspect or fear you have had your identity stolen or been a victim of fraud, act fast and contact your bank, the service provider in question, and your credit reference agency as well as Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.
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