Fight the fraudsters – simple security to stay cyber safe
Unfortunately, online fraud is becoming an increasingly common crime in the UK.
Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, reported that £36.4million was stolen from people in the UK between April and September last year as a result of fraud, meaning over £190,000 was extracted from victims every single day.
Like any crime, fraudsters like to prey on security weaknesses that make it easy for them to obtain what they’re looking for. With that in mind, there are plenty of simple steps you can take to ensure your chances of falling victim to fraud and cyber crime are kept to a minimum.
We’ve rounded up some of the simplest advice from security agencies that will help avoid fraud online.
Do your research
You wouldn’t let someone in to your home without properly checking their identification and ensuring they had made an appointment through a company you’re used to dealing with, such as an energy or water supplier – and you need to follow the same principles online.
Never give money or personal details such as your name, address, bank details or email to any person or company who has contacted you out of the blue. If you’re unsure if an email or call is genuine or if someone is trying to impersonate the government or your bank, contact the organiation through their generic phone numbers to check reference numbers and enquiries – don’t just follow the link or phone number in any email or letter you receive.
Search online for any company you are about to give money or your details to and add the words ‘scam’, ‘complaint’ or ‘phishing’, so see if anyone else has had a negative experience with the company you’re ordering goods from.
Beware of phishing emails
‘Phishing’ is the term given to fraudulent attempts to gain information such as bank details, passwords, usernames and similar personal information.
Criminals typically send phishing emails to try to extract information they can then use to hack accounts and gain financial information.
Remember, your bank will never send you an email asking you to verify your details, so never click on links that appear in unsolicited emails.
Fraudsters can imitate the sender’s email, so just because the email looks genuine, doesn’t mean it necessarily is.
As we said above, if you’re unsure – contact the organisation through their generic contact details to check if an email or request is genuine.
Never pay for services upfront
Fraudsters often promise to help you – for a fee.
The general rule around these offers are that if they seem too good to be true, they probably are. Typical services offered include credit or loans, debt relief, job assistance or prizes – the normal catch being that you need to pay a tax or fee first.
Never pay upfront for these types of services – reputable companies won’t ask for fees upfront for any of the above.
Sign-in to verified payment platforms
The easiest way to ensure you’re paying a reputable supplier or shop is to use credit company’s dedicated secure platforms.
Whenever you can, sign in to Verified by Visa or Mastercard Secure Code, which provide an additional layer of security to any transaction.
Always check the web address of the website you are paying at and look out for the ‘https’ and green padlock symbol in the address bar – this shows the site has a security certificate that minimises the chances of your information being intercepted.
Keep it simple
A simple final check you can do with any request or payment is to check it with someone else – if you’re both unsure if the site or email is genuine, don’t proceed!
For more information on fraud and cyber crime prevention, head to https://www.actionfraud.police.uk.