How to Protect Yourself & Avoid Financial Fraud?
Whether its credit card fraud, online security, dodgy online shopping sites, virus protection, card protection while travelling, scam phone calls and emails or more, the threat of financial fraud is everywhere. And, if you are not suitably clued up and have the awareness and protection checks in place, then you may find yourself in a vulnerable position, prone to a threat that is becoming widespread and commonplace in today’s online-dominated society. We provide some checks that you can make to ensure you are prepared and protected for some of the many risks that are placed upon us on a daily basis, both online and offline.
Starting simple; passwords and PINsFor a start, let’s ensure these are unique. A simple fix and one that is strongly recommended. Avoid using one password across the board for all your online ‘touch-points.’ This may make things easy to recall and use. This is a lazy approach and places you in an uneasy position if your password does fall into the wrong hands. With PINs, avoid using easy combinations such as date of birth or anniversaries. Instead, opt for combinations that are unique and difficult to guess. As an added tip, use different PINs for each of your cards – similar to implementing unique passwords for varying domains. On these lines, it would also be suggested to opt-out of saving card details and passwords when shopping on your favourite online shopping sites. Who knows what steps and measures (if any) are being taken by the company to protect your personal information.
Online transaction protectionOnline shopping is the way of the modern world. You can find almost anything you want online, with virtual ease. For a start, heed caution when visiting suspected ‘dodgy websites’. There are a few quick checks you can make to verify authenticity, the credentials and worthiness of certain websites;
- Check for ‘https’ at the start of a web address. The ‘s’ in ‘https’ stands for secure. This means communications between yourself and the website are encrypted. It encrypts and decrypts the data of the interaction between you and the website so that external parties cannot access the information. If the site does not include ‘https’ this is concerning and you should have major doubts about inputting your key details here.
- Avoid online shopping or online banking via public Wi-Fi access. Public Wi-Fi is great. Who doesn’t like free stuff – including Wi-Fi? When you do log in to public Wi-Fi connections, we do not necessarily know how secure the connection is. And with that, we do not know the level of security attached. Be cautious lodging personal information when accessing public Wi-Fi.
- Check the URLs before you click on them: If you receive a link for a website from an email, hover your mouse over the URL and check to see if it matches up with the known website before you click into it. Also with any messages, you receive, try to judge the tone and check for misspellings and check to see if it is consistent with others from the retailer. Like many of the other actions provided here, if in doubt avoid making any major decisions.
Tips for using your cards when travelling overseas
- Before you go overseas, get a PIN loaded onto the card(s) you intend on using.
- Check the expiry date of your card – if your card is set to expire while you travel you may be able to apply for an early reissue.
- Notify your provider. Let us know your travel period and details. This ensures overseas transactions are not viewed as suspicious or potentially fraudulent.
Be vigilant & cautiousAlways be aware and take a cautious approach when it comes to the protection of your finances and your personal information. Be aware, be alert and prepared so next time a 50-50 email arrives in your inbox or you come across a questionable web domain, you have the know-how to avoid or ignore the potential scam.
If you are victim of fraudIf you do experience some form of financial fraud or suspect illicit activity, it would be strongly recommended to contact your bank or financial provider. As soon as possible. Many providers offer the option to place a temporary hold on your card if fraudulent activity is suspected.
Don’t assume that it won’t affect youMany New Zealanders fall into the trap of thinking that they will be safe and exempt from serious fraud, that those of us tucked away in the corner of the world in little, old New Zealand will escape the major threats that affect the masses overseas. This is a naïve approach and leaves many prone, if not suitably prepared with preventative measures in place.