4 Tips to Avoid

    Online Fraud

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    Posted on: November 25, 2022

    The internet has made it easier than ever to stay connected and do all the fun things we like to do.

    However, while the internet has opened up our lives, it has made it easier to fall for scams. Unfortunately, there are many fraudsters out there who want our money and more scarily, our personal details.

    The good news is that you can protect yourself (and others) online by knowing what to look out for and what to avoid.

    Keep your passwords unique and strong

    Email, social media, online shopping… there are so many passwords that we need to remember!

    While it may be tempting to use the same password for every account, this makes it easier for scammers to access your details. If they have one of your passwords, they’re likely to be able to access all your accounts.

    It’s also important to make sure your passwords are strong. Passwords that are too guessable make it easier for scammers to access your account.

    As an example, ‘123456’ is the most commonly used password in the world, with over 103 million uses reported in 2021. It takes less than one second for hackers to guess it!

    Here are our tips for password success:

    Don’t log into your accounts on public Wi-Fi. You may risk scammers intercepting your usernames and passwords

    Change your passwords regularly – keep those scammers on their toes!

    Use a password manager like MYKI or Dashlane. This safely keeps track of all your different passwords and means you don’t have to remember what they are

    Consider your security questions. If these questions are easy to answer, scammers may try and use them to reset your account details

    Use two-factor authentication where you can. This is when, as well as a password; you need to prove the account is yours, anything from typing in a code texted to your phone to fingerprint ID.

    Be a savvy shopper

    From clothes and food to plane tickets… it’s amazing what you can buy online these days! However, it’s essential to ensure that any products you buy actually arrive at your home, or you receive the service you’ve paid for.

    Action Fraud reports that almost 100,000 people in the UK were caught out by online shopping fraud in 2021, with a reported £60 million lost.

    Here are our top tips for shopping with confidence:

    Pay by credit card or PayPal. That way, if your order doesn’t arrive, it’s easier to get your money back

    Only shop on secure sites. You can tell which sites are protected as the link for the site starts with ‘HTTPS’ rather than ‘HTTP’. You should also see a locked padlock in the address bar

    Some scammers can even create fake versions of real websites so. look out for strange-looking web addresses or unusual spelling errors

    Do your due diligence before purchasing from a website you don’t recognise. Check that there’s a legitimate address and phone number and read the online reviews. Overly-positive feedback can be just as big a red flag as negative reviews – these reviews may be fake

    Say no to suspicious emails

    Spam emails… we all get them. Whether it’s a message from a mysterious Nigerian Prince or a massive lottery win, it can be hard to stop these messages from popping up in your inbox. In fact, over four out of five emails sent worldwide are spam!

    At best, spam emails can be a nuisance. At worst, they’re an underhanded way of stealing your details.

    Here’s how you can make sure the only spam you experience is in your kitchen cupboards:

    Don’t reply to spam messages, even to click on the unsubscribe link. The scammers will know your email address is legitimate, which will lead to more emails

    Keep your email address private. Posting it online increases the chances of receiving spam

    Sometimes spam comes from email addresses we think we know and trust. Spammers spoof these addresses to make messages sound like they have come from friends and family. Check for typos and strange grammar before clicking on anything

    If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Free shopping vouchers and lottery wins may sound tempting, but those emails are likely to have been sent to try and catch you out

    If you see an email from a company and you’re not sure if it’s legitimate, contact the company directly to double-check

    Make sure you have anti-virus software installed on your computer

    Sometimes when you visit a dodgy website or click on a link in a spam email, it will install software onto your computer. This software can do anything from collecting information saved on your device to locking up your files so you can’t access them.

    Anti-virus software installed on your computer can quickly identify any suspicious software and make sure it doesn’t cause any issues.

    It’s estimated that 6,000 new viruses are created a month, so be sure to keep your anti-virus software up to date.

    What to do if you believe you are a victim of an online scam

    If you think you’ve been scammed, the most important thing is not to panic. Here’s what you need to do:

    Change your passwords and ensure your anti-virus software is updated

    If you think your bank account details or PIN have been stolen, call your bank, which will act to protect your account

    Report the scam to Action Fraud

    And finally…. Don’t feel embarrassed about falling for a scam. Even the most internet-literate people have admitted that fraudsters have caught them out.

    Sharing your experiences may even help protect others.

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