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Financial Safety On The Internet

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 25 Jan 2017 | comments*Discuss
Financial Safety Online Financial Fraud

Internet fraud is on the increase. And, with more and more people turning to the Internet for financial management, shopping, and utility payments, the risks are serious. Even the most reliable companies have reported data theft and customer fraud. If you’re concerned about your financial safety, use our quick guide to reduce your risk.

Financial Safety When Shopping Online

Planning to get your Christmas shopping done at home this year? It’s far more attractive than facing the crowds on the high street. But before you log on to this super-relaxed shopping centre, be aware of the financial risks.

After the introduction of Chip and PIN, Internet fraud started to increase steeply. No wonder – all the conman needs is your card number, surname, initials, and sort code. Many ecommerce sites don’t even ask for the security number at the moment.

Every time you tap in your card details to a website, you’re submitting them to yet another database – and yet another source for the conman to try getting into.

What To Do:
Use a small selection of online retailers, instead of buying a couple of things from every site that catches your eye.

Before purchasing, check the site’s credentials – does it have a registered address and customer number?

When you reach checkout, make sure that the URL starts with “https” – the “s” indicates encryption, which makes your data secure as it transfers from your PC to the server.

Financial Scams By Email

If you’ve got an email account, you’ve probably received an email from the Nigerian widow, the lottery organiser, and several banks you don’t use. They’ll try anything to get you to type in your bank details…

What To Do:
Delete the suspicious email instantly, because even opening one can sometimes alert its sender to activity on the account. Never, ever give away your banking or personal details.

‘Phishing’ Emails

‘Phishing’ is a type of scam targeting people via email. A message arrives, supposedly from your bank – that’s the hook. You’re concerned enough to click on the link and make sure your details are correct – you’ve become the fish.

When you click on the link, you arrive at a fraudulent web page that has been designed to simulate your bank’s website. You tap in your name and password – and you’re fish supper. You’ve given the fraudster all they need to crack your account and help themselves to a few bob. Or a lot more…

What To Do:
Delete emails that seem to be from your bank; if you think they may be genuine, contact your bank directly and ask.

Online Data Theft

If you’ve been involved in financial activity online – like signing up with a pension supplier or purchasing shares – then your name, address and financial details could be stored by the company. This list becomes a valuable source of information, prime for tapping.

What To Do:
Before handing out your personal details, ensure that the financial company is regulated in the UK, and that they are respected. Even the biggest companies sometimes have security flaws that have led to data theft, which puts you at risk – the best you can do is choose a reliable company.

Fake Stocks And Shares

Of course, if a hacker doesn’t get your details unethically, he could buy them from the company and then target you with a scam of his own invention.

“Boiler room” callers are fraudulent stockbrokers: highly knowledgeable conmen who call people with a history of share buying. They like people who have dabbled in stocks and shares, and bluffing is their main weapon. You will receive one or several calls offering you excellent deals on stocks and shares, which will later turn out to be imaginary – or hugely inflated.

What To Do:
Before purchasing any shares, use the Financial Services Authority (FSA) website to check the company name against its list of authorised stockbrokers.

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