These days it’s vital to do as much as possible to prevent fraud. As a result of the recent TSB IT meltdown and customers (including myself) losing thousands of pounds to fraudsters, I have been reading more about online security.
It’s a massive subject and I’m only really skimming the surface but thought I’d share some wisdom I’ve learned in the last 24 hours from websites and my own experience. If you want to prevent fraud then please read it carefully and protect yourself before it’s too late.
Websites to help prevent fraud
The following websites are a wealth of information about how to prevent fraud and try and stay one step ahead of the criminals who try and hack into your data.
The first, was recommended by the bank. It’s Take Five – Stop Fraud and there is a test you can take to help identify the scams and compare them with messages your bank will genuinely send. I would recommend taking the test now using this link to check that you know all the most recent ways they will try and scam you, and also what a legitimate message will look like.
Martin Lewis’s MoneySavingExpert website have written a guide to protect yourself from scams. It’s got lots of useful info so follow this link to read more about what you can do.
Protect your mobile phone
Many criminals gain access to mobile phones which can open the door to your online banking and other sensitive information. Touch passwords and facial recognition security helps prevent this happening but there are other measures you can take to protect yourself. Fraudsters will try and port your SIM to another phone so that they have access to your number, to receive security codes from the bank. The Money Box BBC Radio 4 show told how this was an issue for TSB customers – you can listen to their podcast here to find out more.
There is more info on the ‘port-out’ technique on this website – I have to say that it’s not something I was really aware of so please do have a read so that you know what to look out for.
It’s important that if you get any unexpected texts from your mobile provider or experience an unexpected network outage then do contact them. This is the typical behaviour if a third party has cloned or ported your SIM.
I rang my mobile provider this morning and increased the security on my account so that the usual personal details are not enough to gain access. I would strongly suggest you do the same to prevent unauthorised access. Even if the fraudsters used another method rather than SIM cloning, they often follow that up with an attempt to contact your provider. It’s therefore well worth closing that loop now, before they try.
I’m sure it goes without saying that passwords shouldn’t be written down anywhere, particularly on a note on your phone. These days we have so many passwords it’s hard to keep track! What I have done is reset all of mine, which is actually very straightforward and there is usually a ‘forgotten password’ link if you need it. Try to think of a new password which you can use on all your accounts, and if you reset them all at the same time then you’ll only have one to remember.
Make the password strong by including numbers and punctuation such as ?!£$% etc. You can replace letters in normal words to make them safer, for example instead of ‘London’ you could make it ‘L0nd0n’ with zeroes instead of Os. Replace other letters with numbers which are similar, and add some numbers at the end, with a punctuation mark. Don’t use family names, pet names, or favourite football teams as they’re easy to guess. Be creative and if you make it a really unusual word then you’re more likely to remember it.
Unfortunately, the WhatsApp instant messaging service doesn’t have a password. It is tied to the phone so if a criminal steals or takes control of your phone then your messages aren’t protected. What you can do is set up two-step authentication via the app’s settings, which makes it harder to get into if it gets into the wrong hands.
These are just a few tips which I’ve gleaned over the past couple of days and I know there are many more things you can do. Simply physical security is vital, so keep an eye on your phone, and keep all your passwords safe. If there are other resources you’d like me to share then do leave a comment below.
If you’ve been a victim of fraud
Although this post is about how to prevent fraud, if you think you have already been a victim then you should report it to Action Fraud as well as your bank or other provider. This is the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre and collates all scams and fraud activity. It sends all reports to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau which is run by the City of London Police. You can use this link to read more or report a fraud or scam.
If you’d like to read my TSB fraud story then here is a link!
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