This means using a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. For example !AmPr0tectingMyPr1vates
For as little as £20 a year you can get an anti-virus program installed your computer, tablet or smartphone to deter criminals.
Manufacturers are continually improving software to make their programs more secure and harder for criminals to break into.
While traditional crime has been falling cybercrime has been increasing rapidly as criminals see online fraud as less risky, with victims easier to find.
In East Sussex alone last year there were 787 victims of online fraud.
Nationally, figures show that over 50% of victims lose between £20 and £500, while nearly a quarter of victims lose over £500 and up to £20,000
Criminals do their homework. They will scan online profiles and devices connected to the internet for potential victims, identifying the most vulnerable; such as those with poor security settings on social media or devices. There they can gather email addresses and information about your interests and friends.
Take our advice: Make sure your social media privacy settings are secure, limiting what strangers can find out about you. After all YOUR personal information and what you like and do is exactly that – personal!
With the information gathered in the reconnaissance, the fraudster will create, sometimes very compelling but sneaky messages such as emails aimed at getting you to give up even more of your private information. A typical example could be an email, purporting to be from your bank to say that there has been a security breach at your branch and you need to update your details via a link provided.
Take our advice: Banks will never do this. Never open emails unless you are certain that it is genuine. By clicking on the hyperlink, you may unintentionally download malicious software onto your computer that plays into the hands of the crooks, allowing them to more access to your personal details.
You clicked on the link or you opened an ‘unsafe’ attachment on an email. Now the fraudster has been able to install malicious software on your computer, tablet or smartphone to get even more information, including phone numbers, personal details, date of birth, and even passwords to all your banking and shopping sites.
Take our advice: Once again, it’s very simple. Don’t open emails that look a bit suspicious and never open attachments or click on links unless you are absolutely certain they are safe and from a trusted friend. Ensure your spam filter on your email settings is set to the highest security.
This is the stage where all your information is being collected by the malicious software on your device and every time you go online it is sent back to the fraudster to either sell to other criminals as part of a bigger fraud or to move to the next stage. The malicious software sits hidden on your device monitoring the websites you visit, your keystrokes, usernames and passwords.
Take our advice: At this stage anti-virus software would be really useful because it would tell you whether your device has been infected. It’s not too late though, get anti-virus software installed now. If you can’t do it get a trusted family member, friend or reputable computer expert to help.
This is it. The stage where our criminal collects. After getting access to your devices, passwords and personal information, probably sharing it with other fraudsters for a fee, they will attempt to steal your money. They might have enough information already to access your accounts directly, but perhaps they are still missing a few details, such as your CVC code on the back of your debit or credit card.
Criminals might telephone you, claiming to be from your bank, internet supplier, gas board or another legitimate company, and will request this. This call is likely to be highly convincing, seeing as they may have lots of information on you already!
Take our advice: Never pay. Never hand over your personal details via the phone unless you’re sure the caller is genuine. If you’re not sure, say that you’ll call them back. Look for this number yourself, don’t use the caller’s number. If it’s fake or you think you have been the victim of online fraud, contact Action Fraud online or call 0300 123 2040. Alternatively report the matter to Sussex Police online or via 101.
As much as we can do to track fraudsters down, it is each and everyone of our responsibilities to take adequate precautions to keep safe and secure online.
I blamed myself because I was gullible. It was a horrible experience but I won't be taken in by a scam like this again.
It has taught me a lesson and these days if I see a number I don't recognise, I just don't answer the phone.