Tuesday 21 October 2014

Protecting yourself online

I recently read an article about the increasing problem of identity theft and fraud in the UK. As someone who regularly shops online, it’s something that’s always in the back of my mind but I’m never quite sure if I’m doing enough to protect my details.
Suddenly worried that I wasn’t doing enough, or even doing the right things, I looked into it further.
Online identity theft is a growing problem and fraudsters are using ever more advanced techniques to access personal information. Fake websites can be set up that require you to type in your online banking passwords and phising emails appearing to be from your bank can also lead to your details being stolen. Social media sites can also be use to extract a surprising amount of personal information.
To protect yourself against schemes like these, there are a number of simple steps you should take (more details found here):
  • Choose strong passwords
  • Check there is a padlock symbol in the browser window before entering any payment details
  • Never put too much information on social networks
  • Don’t open emails if you don’t know who they’re from
And it’s not just in the online world that we need to protect our details. Fraud and identity theft were an issue long before the internet existed. Your bank details, date of birth, address, NI number, and passwords can all be taken from your bank statements, pay slips. 
There are a number of things you can do to protect your information. The main things to remember are:
  • Redirect your mail when you move house
  • Shred and securely dispose of all sensitive documents
  • If you lose a debit or credit card, or have one stolen, report it immediately!
  • Ensure that you are registered to vote at your current address
It’s also well worth consulting a credit reference agency, such as Experian Credit Expert who can check your current credit history and take measures to protect your rating in the future. If you sign up to their CreditExpert memberships, you will also receive access to a web monitoring service that will ensure you and your personal details stay safe online. And, if you do find yourself a victim of identity fraud or theft, they will help you to protect and restore your rating by adding additional security features and a Notice of Correction to your report. This will explain to future lenders that you have been the victim of identity fraud and that you are not responsible for the credit.

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