For the first time, estimates of fraud and cyber crime offences were added to the Crime Survey of England and Wales, indicating that there were about 6 million instances in 2015. About 1 in 10 Britons fell victim to either fraud or cyber crime offences from April 2015 to March 2016.
During the first three months of 2015, more than 80 per cent of all identity fraud was either perpetrated or attempted online, according to industry research. Many people leave themselves exposed without realising the risk, such as oversharing on social media—a virtual hunting ground for cyber criminals. It is important to set up strict privacy settings, and to avoid sharing information such as your birthday or your address, which can be used to steal your identity. Also, never share holiday selfies alongside details of when you’ll be away from home. Lastly, skim through your contacts often; some people may try to connect with you using fake profiles, thus, allowing them access to information they wouldn’t otherwise be privy to.
Other best practices for defending your finances against online fraudsters include the following:
- Change passwords regularly, and use different passwords for different websites.
- Keep your PIN safe. Don’t let anyone see you punching in your code at the cash machine.
- Shred documents. Thieves commonly rummage through bins looking for personal information that they can use to create fake accounts.
- Check your bank statements regularly. Contact your bank immediately if you see anything suspicious.
- Stay private. Check bank accounts at home—not in public locations with free, shared Wi-Fi connections.
- Redirect post. If you’re moving home, use Royal Mail’s redirection service to redirect your post.
- Protect your computer. Invest in anti-virus protection that updates hourly.
- Watch for copycat websites when shopping online. Call the shop first when in doubt.
- Check your credit report. Report anything suspicious straight away.