Protecting yourself online

Fraud and phishing: it’s vital to protect your personal details from fraudsters, especially when entering sensitive details relating to your finances.

We’re just as concerned about your personal details as you are.

What is phishing?

Phishing is the term used to describe criminals who want to access and use your personal details – usernames, passwords, credit cards and bank accounts. Fraudsters can gain access to your information from emails, letters through the post, cold calls or instant messages and text messages.

Be aware of the emails you receive – especially any that encourage you to open unknown attachments or website links.

Until recently, fraudsters have focussed their attention on business users. Now though, they’re pretending to have business knowledge in order to trick you into a false sense of security and share your personal details.

For example, they may ask for customer feedback, request information, provide links to information on cures, weight loss and prize draws, staff and legal notices.

Pension scams

You also need to watch out for pension scams. This is when a company or person may tell you they can transfer a large sum of your pension savings into cash without any tax charges or penalties.

Once your money has been transferred to these fraudsters, there is no way of getting it back.

More about pension scams »

Phone scams

Fraudsters who call you will say anything to get your personal details. We understand it can be hard to tell a genuine phone call from a fraudulent one. But failing to notice the differences could lead you to being vulnerable.

Here’s what we’ll never do:

  • ask for your password
  • ask for your login information or ask for your password to be reset by clicking on a web link
  • ask you questions relating to your family
  • speak in a rushed manner which leaves you no time to think or speak
  • redirect you to a premium rate service which charges you to call
  • send you a text message from an unknown number, which encourages you to call it
  • offer you ‘free’ or low cost ring tones
  • phone you with an automated message
  • tell you what decisions you should be making – we cannot advise
  • use phrases such as ‘you’ve been specially selected,’ ‘you have to make a choice right away,’ ‘we’ll just put the handling charges on your credit card’ and ‘you trust me, right?’

Remember, if you’re unsure about the person calling you, don’t give them any of your information.

What to look out for

You may have been scammed if:

  • unexpected transactions appear in your bank account
  • money is unexpectedly withdrawn from your bank statement
  • you don’t receive an email you were told to expect
  • your credit card is cancelled or its limit exceeded.

Always remember:

  • banks will never ask for your details through email
  • it’s best to check that the company or person’s name matches with the email address they’re emailing from – a spelling mistake may suggest fraud
  • usually fraudsters won’t know your name, so watch out for formal greetings like ‘Dear Sir/Madam,’ ‘Dear customer,’ ‘Dear Recipient,’ ‘Dear youremail@address.co.uk’ and ‘New Member’
  • fraudulent emails may be grammatically incorrect and have spelling mistakes in either the ‘subject’ line or the email itself
  • fraudsters will usually want your valuable information urgently, so they may give a deadline and demand a quick reply from you.

How to handle phishing messages:

  • Be wary of door-to-door financial advisers.
  • Use your spam filter to protect your inbox by marking suspicious emails as spam and deleting them as soon as possible.
  • Don’t reply to unknown emails.
  • Keep personal information safe and hidden from others.
  • Seek advice or report the company or person who has contacted you to Action Fraud – a UK reporting centre specialising on fraud and internet crime.

To help us fight fraud, please keep your contact information up to date. And remember, we’ll never contact you by email to ask for your personal information.

Any concerns?

Contact Action Fraud – the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.

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