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Fraud Prevention Guide

While we are becoming increasingly aware of fraud and when we need to be careful both on and offline, fraudsters are also becoming smarter, which can make it more difficult to spot a scam.

28 January, 2020

While we are becoming increasingly aware of fraud and when we need to be careful both on and offline, fraudsters are also becoming smarter, which can make it more difficult to spot a scam.

Below, we have outlined some areas to be aware of, where fraudsters might choose to target you, to help you keep your personal data safe.

By phone

Ever had one of those ‘were you in an accident?’ calls when you haven’t been? Or maybe someone has called to tell you you’re owed thousands by the tax man? These calls are becoming increasingly common, and while we may think we are becoming wiser to them, fraudsters are always coming up with new ways to catch us out, so we still need to stay vigilant. If you receive an unexpected call with a foreign dialling code, or with no caller ID, be on your guard when answering. Alternatively, you might wish to decline the call - if it’s something important they will call again or leave a voicemail.

Online

This is arguably the most well-publicised type of fraud is online, with fraudsters continuously coming up with new ways of catching us out when using the internet. Below are some examples, and suggestions on how to be wary.

Email

We’ve all received emails with subtle misspellings of words, or blurred company logos, but these are getting increasingly subtler and therefore more difficult to spot. A general rule of thumb is not to click any links within emails, unless you are completely sure of their validity. Also, be wary of email addresses; adding an extra letter, a misplaced hyphen or a number 1 instead of a letter ‘I’ are all techniques fraudsters will use to try and catch you out.

If you receive an email from your bank or building society, check it against previous emails they’ve sent you to ensure the format is the same, and most importantly, ensure that it is not asking for confirmation of bank details, your card number or your PIN.

If none of the above are included, but you have doubts about any email from one of your service providers, give them a call to double check that the correspondence is genuine. If you aren’t sure, never click any links, respond, or provide any personal details.

Buying and selling sites

More and more people are using sites such as Gumtree, eBay and Amazon marketplace to buy and sell items directly from another individual, rather than from a company. If you are using one of these sites, ensure that you always pay and receive payment through a secure method such as PayPal, or that the person buying your product collects the item from you personally. Furthermore, if you’re selling an item and plan to post it to the purchaser, don’t send it until you receive the money from them.

Unknown websites

If you come across a website you’ve never used before, ensure you are vigilant when accessing the page. Check for a padlock logo to the left of the address in your search bar, or that the website address begins ‘https’ as opposed to ‘http’ to ensure it is a secure and safe site for you to use.

Public Wi-Fi

We all love the opportunity to have free internet access rather than use up our data on our phones, especially if we are running a bit low. While public internet access can be great, remember that it’s not secure – anyone can access the network, which means hackers can easily see what you’re up to online. When using public wi-fi, don’t log into any sites that require you to input sensitive personal data, such as your online banking, or shopping sites. Turn your wi-fi off and use your 4G or wait until you get home to buy that new outfit or check your balance after a busy weekend!

By post

Postal scams may be less frequent than fraud committed online or by phone, but we still need to be wary in case it happens to us. Take caution when you receive any type of post requesting money unexpectedly, be it for a package you don’t remember ordering, or for a lottery win you don’t remember entering.  If you make a lot of online purchases or tend to place several orders or enter many competitions in one go, and find it easy to lose track, start making a note of everything, so that you can check each transaction off your list once they come through.

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