STAYING SAFE ONLINE
By Hannah Ricci
Friday, September 12, 2008.
The recent increase in loss of personal data by companies and government agencies on both sides of the Atlantic has served to highlight the need to protect your identity. The potential financial devastation caused by identity fraud should be reason alone for us all to keep a tighter check on the how we give out our details and the way we use our money online.
10 ways to keep your money safe online
1. When you visit a bank or retailer's website enter the address manually - never follow an email link.
2. Keep account details and passwords secret - if you surrender them yourself you may not be covered in the event of fraud.
3. Don't judge a company or person on their website alone - look for a telephone number and address.
4. Remember your bank will never contact you to disclose security information - ignore any emails that ask for your PIN, password or other personal details.
5. Use up-to-date anti-virus software, a personal firewall and, if your computer uses the Microsoft Windows operating system, keep it updated from the Microsoft website.
6. Check your bank statement regularly, and if you notice anything irregular call your bank immediately.
7. Sign up to a secure payment method such as Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode, which will verify your card information and provide an extra layer of protection. For transactions over £100, use a credit card for security against non-delivery or fraud.
8. When buying online, check the website is secure - look for a padlock at the bottom right of the browser window. Click on the padlock to check that the seller is who they say they are and that their certificate is current and registered to the right address. The web address should also begin with 'https://'.
9. Be wary of buying anything offered via spam or unsolicited phone calls.
10. Don't be conned by emails that offer you the chance to make some easy money - if it looks too good to be true, it usually is.
Although banks and other organisations are stepping up their efforts against this type of fraud, the latest slip by the Government shows us that nobody is immune and the best place to begin protection is with ourselves. The more proactive and aware amongst us can follow these steps to safeguard their identity and their finances.
Golden rules to protect your identity
• Store personal information securely and dispose of any documents bearing your name and address by shredding or ripping them up.
• Don't let cards or card details out of your sight when making a transaction, and shield the keypad when entering your PIN in a shop or at a cashpoint.
• Never send money or supply financial details to unsolicited emails or phone calls.
• Regularly check your credit record with a credit agency, such as Experian, Equifax or Call Credit, to monitor any applications for credit.
• Prevent deceased fraud of loved ones by following the steps detailed at Cifas.org.uk.
• Before sharing personal details, ask yourself: Who is asking for them? Why they need them? Are you 100% sure they are genuine?
• Close accounts you no longer require - dormant accounts can be re-activated by fraudsters without your knowledge.
• Enrol on the electoral register of your new local authority when moving home, inform all the relevant organisations of your change in address and use the Royal Mail re-direct service for at least 12 months.
• Never use the same password twice, and don't use your mother's real maiden name - this can easily be found out.
• Keep an eye on your bills and statements and make a note of when they should arrive. If your bills or statements don't turn up, inform the organisation concerned.
With thanks to Interactive Investors.
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