On average, every adult in the UK loses £765 annually either directly or indirectly through fraud. The cost of products, services, and taxation all rise, thanks to this criminal behaviour. In 2010, The National Fraud Authority estimated that fraud cost £38.4 billion. Every sector, from public to charity, is affected by fraud.
But how do you protect yourself?
Always Verify Businesses
Some companies will ask for your personal details, but don’t cough-up unless you’re sure the business is a reputable and upstanding organisation. Often fraudulent groups will masquerade as already established companies. Check out the legitimacy of their request for personal information before you hand over your details.
Be Wary Of Your Email Account
Spammers and fraudsters often resort to preying on individuals through email. If you receive an email from your bank, asking you to confirm your account information, delete and block the sender immediately. Your bank will never ask for important details through your email account. Contact your bank about any suspicious email correspondence.
Thoroughly Destroy Important Documents
If you wish to recycle any documents which include your bank details or contact information, shred them first. Any bank cards should be cut up before being thrown away, otherwise a fraudster may try to steal your identity.
Protect Your Computer
Always make sure that your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and that your firewall is up. Without this protection, your computer is exposed. Malware opens up your system to hackers, who can then upload your personal information.
While shopping online, always choose to do the transaction through ‘Verified by Visa’ or ‘MasterCard Secure Code,’ if given the opportunity. If you can, make online payments on a credit card, as you’re guaranteed greater safety. Additional layers of security can’t do any harm, even with reputable online retailers.
Remember to change your passwords often. ‘Password’ is not a real password. Instead, choose something complicated and unobvious; preferably containing capitalisation and numbers. Click here for some advice about password creation.
If you receive receipts for items you haven’t purchased, contact your bank immediately. Always carefully check your statements for unfamiliar payments. Your identity might have been stolen.
You can also garner a free credit report every year, but if you switch between credit bureaus, you can request one every four months. Scan through your details and see if you can spot any credit cards or accounts in your name, which you didn’t open.
If someone contacts you about business deals, feel wary. If the offer seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is. At the very least, research the business deal first, before you give anyone your details.
Ask For Advice
There are many non-profit organisations which can discuss fraud with you. Try Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Here, you can report fraudulent behaviour and find out your rights, if you’re a victim of criminal activity.
Prepared for Burton Copeland serious fraud solicitors, who research latest news stories and compose insightful opinions on them in an attempt to raise awareness of approaches to prevent this type of crime.