Tips to avoid phishing and identity theft

Criminal gangs are constantly inventing new ways to try and get their hands on your money.

You can help keep the cash in your bank account safe and reduce your chances of becoming a victim of fraud by following these simple steps:

1) First of all, make sure your computer or laptop is protected with a good security software program and anti-virus software. Keep them all, along with your browser, up-to-date.

2) Different banks have different security measures for online banking but if you have to set up a password, make sure it is a mixture of letters and numbers, and is different from an email password. If you access your email from an insecure computer, scammers could steal your password details and use them to access your account. Also, don’t write your passwords down in full or share them with anyone.

Avoiding scam calls and emails

3) Never disclose personal details, such as your password, on email or over the phone unless, of course, it is one you have agreed with your bank for telephone banking.

4) However, if you received a call, or email, from your bank which you weren’t expecting, treat it with suspicion, regardless of the apparent name of the organisation contacting you. Never follow a link from an email purporting to be from your bank or open an email from an unknown source as it may contain a virus.

5) Before entering your account details into a website, make sure there is a padlock symbol in your browser and that the web address changes from starting with ‘http’ to ‘https’ – this means the connection is secure.

6) If you have a wireless network at home, make sure you have activated the security settings on your wireless router to make it secure and prevent others accessing it.

7) Avoid accessing your bank account from a public computer or unsecured wireless network. If you do use a public computer, never leave it unattended when logged in and always log out properly when you’ve finished your banking session.

8) Avoid posting personal information such as your email address, date of birth and phone number on social network websites such as Facebook and Twitter to reduce the risk of identity theft. Only accept friend requests from people you know. Someone posing as an interesting person asking to become friends may actually be an ID thief. Check your privacy settings carefully and make sure only people you trust can view your profile.

9) Regularly check your bank account and statements for suspicious transactions. If you spot something unfamiliar, report it to your bank or card provider as soon as you can.