Defend your finances against online fraudsters: 11 top tips

Online fraud is on the increase, so make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect your finances from thieves.

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According to the UK’s fraud protection service CIFAS, 80% of all identity fraud in the first three months of last year was attempted or perpetrated online, with many of us unwittingly leaving ourselves exposed.

Follow our top tips to make sure you don’t become the fraudsters’ next victim…

1 - Regularly change your passwords:

If you’ve stuck with the same online password for years because it’s easy to remember, you’re making life easier for fraudsters – especially if you use the same password for every online destination that needs one.

Regularly changing your passwords and using different ones for different sites will make it much harder for crooks to crack your code.

2 - Keep your PIN safe:

Whatever you do, don't write down your PIN and keep it in your wallet. If you do, and a fraudster gets hold of it, you’ll be liable for any losses because you’ve been negligent.

If you must write it down, keep it under lock and key somewhere no-one else can find it.

3 - Clear out your bag:

If your wallet or bag is stuffed full of receipts and other paperwork with personal details on, it could prove disastrous if you lose it or it is stolen.

Get into the habit of clearing out your wallet or bag every week, so that you aren’t carrying anything around that reveals personal information.

4 - Shred documents:

 If you haven’t got one already, invest in a shredder and shred any documents with your name, address or financial details on, before throwing them away.

Thieves are known to go through bins looking for personal information they can use to create fake accounts.

5 - Check your bank statements:

Go through your bank statements with a fine-tooth comb – it’s one of the best ways to spot if anyone’s got hold of your financial details.

Cross off any transactions you’ve made against receipts, and if you spot anything suspicious, speak to your bank immediately.

6 - Stay private:

Be careful about accessing your bank’s website when you are in a public place.

Make any transactions when you are at home or somewhere prying eyes can’t look over your shoulder and see your personal details. Avoid accessing your bank from an internet café.

7 - Redirect mail:

If you’re moving home, make sure your post is redirected to your new address for several months using Royal Mail’s redirection service.

This will prevent fraudsters getting hold of your post at your old address and using your details to set up accounts.

8 - Don’t overshare on social media:

If you haven’t set up strict privacy settings on your social media accounts, it might not be just your friends which see your personal details.

Never give information such as your birthday or your address, as these can be used to steal your identity. And never post holiday ‘selfies’ alongside details of when you’ll be away from home.

9 - Protect yourself: 

If you haven’t updated your computer’s anti-virus protection recently, do it now.

Ideally you should have protection that updates hourly.

10 - Watch out for copycat websites:

Be aware of copycat websites posing as high-street stores. Check the website name is correct in the address bar.

If in doubt, phone the shop first to confirm you are using the right internet address before handing over card details.

11 - Check your credit report:

Check your credit report every few months. It will show any regular payments that are being made, so you can tell whether online fraudsters are using your details to borrow or make payments. If you notice anything unusual, report it straight away.

You can get a copy of your report for £2 from one of the three main credit reference agencies, Equifax, Experian or CallCredit.

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