Keeping your online accounts safe
It’s the age of (digital) piracy; countless fraudsters are using cutting edge techniques to try and access your accounts. Thy’re using your money to fund their own extravagant lifestyles. Covert phishing techniques, credit card fraud and social engineering are all employed on a daily basis to try and scam millions of people. So, as we all know account security should be a top priority.
Fraud affects millions of people every year. It contributes to an annual loss of up to £190 BILLION across the country. The good news is that there are numerous ways that you can keep your accounts safe and secure, without having to break the bank.
From careful account management to creative security questions. Let’s take a look at how you can significantly reduce the risk of your accounts being targeted:
Most of us use some form of online banking. It’s incredibly helpful when checking the status of your credit cards, managing repayments for payday loans and even paying into your current account. As each online account can contain a wealth of information, keeping it safe is of the utmost importance.
Usually, banks will have a few different verification steps to log in. Things like secure card reader sign in systems, multiple passwords and sometimes even security questions. There are still a few things you can consider, however, to ensure your accounts are absolutely secure.
- When possible, make sure you log in using your card reader. Pin sentry logins are recognised to be one of the most secure ways to access the account, as the card must be present and the user must know the PIN.
- Make sure your passwords are strong, containing a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. The most secure passwords are ones that bear no personal significance, though these are also generally the most forgettable.
- If you use multiple online banks, make sure you use a different password for each one. Similarly, make sure each of your cards has a different PIN!
Be wary of unexpected emails
Scam emails are definitely not uncommon; as multiple people fall victim to them every single day. The premise is simple in that someone will impersonate a bank, online retailer or other trusted contact. They will then ask you to either send them money, ‘log in to your account’, or tell them your card details.
Often times, phishing emails will include a link. This will redirect to what looks like the bank’s own website, prompting you to log in. This is actually a mock email and the website is a cleverly designed fake, built solely to record your login details.
These emails often look genuine and are potentially indistinguishable from genuine company contacts. This makes them increasingly harder for us to spot. It’s important to thoroughly check for any spelling and grammar issues or any inconsistencies, as these are usually a dead giveaway that the email is fraudulent. If you do have any concerns, the best course of action is to contact the relevant company. Always use a trusted method of communication, e.g. their direct number.
Be careful with what information you post online
A new social media platform seemingly opens every week, tempting you to sign up for an account and begin making friends. Whilst these platforms can have some outstanding benefits, you should still be careful about what information you post online.
Social media websites are ‘open forum’, meaning anybody can see your posts at any time. This is regardless of whether they are friends with you or not. You can combat this to an extent by changing your privacy settings, so that only people you know can view your information.
It isn’t unheard of for fraudsters to use your social media profiles to find information. It will help them access your bank accounts, such as your full name, your date of birth and in some cases even your address!
Keep your antivirus up to date
Viruses come in all shapes and sizes, performing different tasks in varying degrees of success. Some viruses will do nothing more than cause your computer to periodically turn off. Whereas some can encrypt your computer and any files you have saved, until you pay someone a large amount of money.
Ransomware and key loggers are different types of viruses that will both compromise your online security. Ransomware will hold your information at ‘ransom’ until a payment is made to an unidentified person. Whereas a key logger will record any input from your keyboard, potentially showing your password to an unauthorised individual.
By keeping your antivirus software completely up to date, you can drastically reduce the likelihood of your system being infected. This will protect yourself against malicious computer programmes or costly repairs.
Destroy your sensitive information
It’s important to consider what you throw away. Many of us simply dispose of what could be considered sensitive information (bank statements, letters…) by tossing it in the bin when we’ve finished with it.
In nearly all circumstances, this is absolutely fine. There are, however, certain instances in which fraudsters have opened accounts in someone else’s name by using these discarded documents. Whilst it definitely isn’t as common as phishing is, it can be just as devastating and can also lead to a great deal of financial loss.
It’s recommended that you destroy any sensitive documents rather than just throw them out. The reason for this is it can completely eliminate the risk of exposing your identity.
If you ever do notice anything unusual on your credit file, you should contact the credit reference agency as a matter of urgency.
Keeping your accounts secure will reduce the risk of any monetary loss as a result of fraudulent activity. Whilst banks and building societies do their best to protect your accounts, by working alongside them you can greatly improve your chances of staying secure.
By thoroughly protecting your accounts, you’re less likely to lose out on valuable time and money. Also, you’re much more likely to avoid disingenuous negative marks on your credit file.