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Top tips for fighting wolves on the web

wolvesMy computer is an essential part of my life. It’s on every waking hour. I do much of my shopping and nearly all my financial transactions are online. I use it to keep in (tenuous) touch with long-standing friends. My son would probably leave home if the broadband wasn’t working. Without it, we’d be totally lost.

Yet I’m starting to loath and mistrust it. I’ve got all the virus protection you can get but I still get lots of dodgy-looking sites popping up. I’m really careful with my personal details yet still, somehow, the bloody computer knows when my birthday is. I won’t do money transfers because I think they’re unsafe as you don’t yet get the name of the recipient confirmed. One of the reasons I worry about the rapidly-disappearing bank branch network is that actually doing a transaction face to face can feel safer than online.

So the latest report from Cifas – the fraud prevention service – has frankly fanned the fire on my computer paranoia. It says personal information is being sold by wolves – online fraudsters – on both the dark web and the surface (ie normal) web. Apparently, a third of those who have suffered from identity fraud have been targeted via their social media footprint. So, to stay safe online:
1. Get rid of profiles on social media sites you don’t use any longer.
2. Make sure your social media profiles are at their highest settings.
3. Limit the amount of personal information you reveal: the more you give, the easier it is for a fraudster to paint a complete picture of you.
4. When you are buying online, say no if the site offers to store your card details.
5. Don’t have one password for all your sites. Change them regularly.
6. Watch out for suspicious emails. If your bank is going to contact you it will use your full name and it will never ask you for your full password.
7. Get a copy of your credit report regularly – you’ll be able to spot easily if someone is misusing your personal information. If you see an account or a credit search from a company then tell the credit reference agency. It costs £2 to get a statutory report - see here for more details. And check too our guide to online safety: it will help you keep the virtual wolves at bay.

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Wednesday, 19 December 2018