10 ways to keep your money safe from online scams | moneyfacts.co.uk

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Published: 07/01/2022

Worried about being targeted by a scam? Here are 10 ways to keep your money safe from online scammers.

1. Choose strong passwords

It’s age-old advice but it bears repeating – you should always choose strong passwords that would be difficult for someone to guess, make sure to change them regularly, and don’t use the same password for all accounts. There should be a mix of letters (both upper and lowercase), numbers and symbols, or pick three entirely random words that you can string together, mixing up some of the characters as you go.

2. Keep passwords and PINs private.

Never tell anyone your password or PIN, particularly for your financial accounts, and use a password manager to keep track of your various login details. This will encrypt your various passwords, store them securely and will even generate passwords for you.

3. Don’t click or download anything you don’t trust

mail scams are common and they can look disarmingly like the real deal. Never click on links or attachments unless you trust the content, and if you’re unsure, make sure to verify the sender by looking for contact details online, never by using the details provided in the email. Essentially, you should be sceptical of everything, particularly unsolicited emails, even if they appear to be legitimate.

4. Don’t give out personal details to callers

Don’t give out personal details to callers, including someone claiming to be from your bank or the police, and if you’re asked to give the caller remote access to your computer, hang up immediately. Call 159 to check if the person claiming to be from your bank is genuine – this is a free hotline launched by Stop Scams UK, and it will connect you with your bank so you can be sure of the caller’s authenticity.

5. Keep your accounts secure

This may involve using two-factor authentication, which is where you’ll need to provide a username and password as well as an additional piece of information that’s unique to you. This could be in the form of biometrics (your fingerprint or voice, for example, or your iris via facial recognition software) or a code from a card reader that changes each time. A lot of online accounts have two-factor authentication as standard – particularly for online banking and, increasingly, email accounts – but others will let you set it up on a voluntary basis.

6. Be vigilant when shopping online

You should always use secure sites (the web address will start with “https” and there’ll be a padlock symbol) and, if it’s a site you haven’t used before, do a bit of research beforehand to check that it’s genuine, such as by reading online reviews. It’s often recommended to use credit cards rather than debit cards when shopping online as you can get additional payment protection through the Consumer Credit Act, and avoid using virtual currencies as you’re highly unlikely to get your money back if you’re scammed.

7. Don’t be too open with the internet

It’s all-too easy to share your entire life online, with social media and blogging sites letting us divulge information in a way we never would have done before. Just be careful how much personal information you share. Scammers can easily use that information to create a fake identity, target you directly or even access your accounts, so be mindful before you post. Similarly, tighten up your privacy settings so only those you trust can see your posts.

8. Get the right security software installed

It’s vital to have some form of anti-virus software on your computer, and an ad-blocker is often recommended as well. You’ll often find this kind of software pre-installed on new machines, but it’s worth doing some research to see which ones would best suit your needs (not to mention your budget).

9. Know what scams to look out for

Knowing what you’re up against can be one of the biggest hurdles, so it’s worth staying up to date with recent scams that have been doing the rounds. You can do this by signing up to alerts from Trading Standards or Action Fraud.

10. Keep tabs on your credit report

This is essential to make sure that there are no applications for credit made in your name that you didn’t authorise, and it’s particularly important if you’re worried that scammers have had access to your personal details. Check your credit score regularly, and in a similar vein, keep an eye on your bank statements to make sure there aren’t any suspicious transactions. The increasing functionality of online banking apps should make this easier than ever.

Find out more about how to protect yourself from scams and, crucially, how to spot them, by reading our guide.

 

Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.

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