We’re all aware of the threat posed by online fraudsters – identity theft, spam, phishing scams, Trojans, auction fraud, overpayment fraud … the list goes on.
Of course, after years of browsing various websites and hearing tales of people’s misfortunes we are all too aware of the dangers. As a result the idea of falling victim to such scams is highly unlikely when you know all the tell-tale signs.
Whilst it is true that some of the scams we find online are way too obvious to fall for, others are not so transparent and it doesn’t pay to be complacent.
Here is a quick reminder of some of the things you need to look out for.
Never download attachments email without scanning for viruses. Viruses and phishing software can be easily attached to mails and it should always be remembered that you should never give out any personal information (such as bank details) over email.
Emails claiming to be from reputable organisations such as banks, building societies and HMRC and asking for personal details should never be answered. These organisations will not ask for such details via email but if in doubt you should call them up or visit the website by typing the address directly into your browser – not by clicking the link in the email.
Use anti-virus software and keep your online security it up to date
Up-to-date software is important to protect against the most recent viruses. If you buy software online make sure it is from a genuine supplier and remember that online security solutions cover more than just anti-virus. High quality protection will check websites for an SSL certificate which tells users whether it is secure or not.
You can tell a website is secure and has an appropriate SSL by whether the address bar turns green when you visit the website, whether the address begins with “https” (as opposed to “http”) and whether a padlock symbol in the address bar is closed/locked (rather than open/unlocked).
Update your password
This is something that we can all sometimes be guilty of neglecting. There is a general rule that you should update your password for all websites and online accounts every quarter but few of us are that regular.
You should create passwords which are long, unique and use a mix of random numbers and lower and upper case letters. The longer the password the harder it is for fraudsters to crack.
Although these may be difficult to remember there are apps and programs which can be downloaded to store your passwords. Then you’ll just need to remember one password to gain access to this app and you’ll have all your account details and log-in information readily at hand but without exposing yourself to greater risks.
Research the company before you make any purchases
When you are used buying items online it is easy to become flippant about the whole process. However, cyber criminals are not prepared to rest on their laurels so it is always worth doing your research before buying from an unknown brand or company and keeping online security in mind at all times.
If possible, find another consumer who has bought from the firm or brand in question and ask about the quality of the product, delivery time and customer service. Always check that their website contains contact details for the company and attempt to make contact with them using these details so that you can prove they are authentic.
Scrutinise your credit card bills and bank statements
Scammers steal account information and then run up charges or commit crimes in your name. Dishonest merchants bill you for monthly “membership fees” and other goods or services without your authorisation. It can be easy to overlook small charges such as £5 per month so be thorough with your statements and make sure you check everything off against receipts and invoices.