There is no doubt that the age of mass communication is a double-edged sword. The ability to send messages by the Internet has opened up the information super-highway, communication and information can be found and used in a micro-second.
But, personal information can also be located and used, and indeed mis-used just as easily with dire consequences when it comes to internet fraud.
In this hi-tech. world, the individual is more at risk from mis-use of personal information than ever before. It pays to think to whom you are giving personal information, and why, who is going to use that information, and for what?
Use this check list to ensure that you are protecting what is yours. Information is power – don’t give it away to everyone who asks for it.
Addressing the Back of a Cheque
Although payment by cheque is decreasing rapidly with advent of chip-and-pin technology, some people still like to use this method of payment, and a sales assistant may ask you to put your address on the back of your cheque.
They don’t need that information, it is not a vital part of your transaction. The truth is, companies sell address lists compiled from this source to companies for mail shots. So, when an assistant cheerfully asks you to write your address down, be equally cheerful and say ‘No.’
If the assistant tries to make a scene, call for the manager, and ask for a valid reason why your address is required. If one is not forthcoming, and they refuse to accept your cheque without your address, walk way, taking your cheque with you, and shop elsewhere.
Your address is personal information, if it’s being requested without due cause. Don’t give it.
Phishing is the generic term for e-mail abuse where a company or individual attempt to get you to part with sensitive information – usually bank account details and passwords.
Internet fraudsters send millions of e-mails to random addresses with a mock-up of a high street bank or building society letterhead asking for account passwords and numbers for ‘checking’.
Remember, these mails are always fake – no genuine financial institution asks for this information by e-mail. But if the criminals send out several hundred thousand mails and one per cent of recipients reply with that information, the internet scammers are laughing. This is why you should always protect yourself to ensure internet credit card safety.
Delete these mails, and warn your friends and family to do the same.
Have you noticed how many stationary stores and supermarkets are selling really inexpensive paper shredders? They are a wise investment.
Some fraudsters will actually steal your household rubbish bags and sift through them for bank statements, card details, and similar personal information.
If a document has your address or any information on it, don’t bin it, shred it.
The golden rule is – personal information means what it says – personal. Think carefully what information you are giving out, to whom you are giving it, why you are giving it, and to what uses that information may be put. The bad guys are out where – you just have to be smarter than they are.
Pin Numbers and Passwords
With the increase in technology, almost everyone has to use a password to access their bank account, computer, cash, and so on.
There is a fine line between thinking of a password that’s easy to remember and one that’s easy for an information thief to work out.
So, don’t use your birthday, your phone number, your middle name, or anything that won’t be too hard to guess, or find out.
Mix up words and digits – don’t use your birthday, use your wife’s or another family member. Don’t use your home phone number, use the office number, or a relative’s number.
If you really have to write down the numbers, do them in ‘code’ – reverse them, mix them up in some way, anything that makes a thief’s life harder.
Technology is designed to make your life easier, so make sure it just makes life easier for you, so that you do not become a victim of internet fraud.
For more information about theft of personal details and the Data Protection Act and how you can report internet fraud you can see some articles at ConsumerRightsExpert.