I have had my bank account targeted by fraudsters twice. In both cases, my bank sorted it out quickly and I didn’t lose any money. These days, I am so conscious of being defrauded my banking activities are set back in the 20th century. I don’t do bank transfers unless I can possibly avoid it and I won’t until you get confirmation of payee (due by 2020 at the latest). I don’t store my card numbers when I shop online. And I’m careful with passwords and PINs. Hell, I even have (and use) a cheque book.
I’m sure most of us are similarly careful yet still the fraudsters prosper. According to Cifas, the fraud prevention service, there were more than 300,000 cases of fraudulent activity last year with identity fraud hitting an all-time high of 174,523 cases and 80% of fraudulent applications were made online. Cifas says that the difference now is that identity fraud isn’t down to fraudulent applications for plastic cards or bank account – “but due to targeting of other sectors such as telecoms, online retail and insurance”. These sectors were seen by fraudsters to be soft targets. Take this as a warning: if you’re already careful with your banking details then it’s time to be similarly careful in all transactions you make. I was nearly caught out earlier this year by a rogue website offering cheap X Box games: since then, I’ve become more sensible.
Cifas’ advice to helping protect yourself from financial fraud are: 1. Never disclose security details, such as your PIN or full password – it’s never right to reveal these details.2.Don’t assume an email request or caller is genuine – people aren’t always who they say they are. 3. Don’t be rushed – a bank or genuine organisation won’t mind waiting to give you time to stop and think. 4. Listen to your instincts – if something feels wrong then it is usually right to pause and question it. 5. Stay in control – have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for information.
Basically, then, it’s down to being sensible and aware the whole time – even if all you’re doing is buying something cheap on the internet. Such vigilance is tiring, but so much better than the creepy feeling (and potential financial problems) you get if a fraudster steals your identity.
See our guide to online safety here