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Five ways to avoid online fraud

According to the Office for National Statistics in 2015 there were almost 6 million fraud and cyber crimes. Avoiding being scammed when going online is difficult at the best of times and now these criminals are targeting older people who are deemed to be less proficient at Internet security. Here are 5 top tips to avoid being conned whilst online.

1) Watch out for suspicious emails

If you receive an email requesting payment or for personal information be very suspicious. It may appear to be from someone you know but there are now sophisticated scams that can mimic emails from our contacts. If you aren’t sure just give them a call to check. Similarly, if you are not 100% sure what is in an email attachment, just do not open it! See here for the risks of opening unknown email attachments.

2) Shop and bank securely

At the click of a button you can buy almost anything online. However, when managing your money online it is important to make sure you are doing it securely. Firstly, check that the retailer is reputable, look for reviews by previous customers. Next make sure the website is safe: the website address should start https:// rather than http:// – the ‘s’ stands for secure – and there should be a padlock symbol next to the website address. Finally, if possible pay with credit card as this will provide more protection. The Money Advice Service provides further advice for shopping online.

3) Use security software to protect your computer

Criminals can try to hack into your computer in an attempt to steal personal information and private data such as credit card numbers. Make sure you have up-to-date security software installed to protect you. Options for free anti-virus software can be found here.

4) Use a strong password

Passwords are essential for protecting your personal information. Ideally a password should be at least eight characters including upper case and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. It can be tricky to remember your password so make it memorable to you. For example, use the name of a grandchild and their date of birth then swap some of the characters. So Rosie born on 12/03/15 could become R0s!e12Mar15.

5) Watch out for Pension fraud

It is estimated that £600 million is lost to Pension fraud. So always be wary of unsolicited approaches online or via the telephone regarding your pension. NEVER divulge personal or financial information to someone you do not know. Get information about the company offering you their services, any financial advisors should be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Ask an independent advisor to assess any proposal to make sure you are getting a good deal. More information on pension scams can be found here.

For more information on protecting yourself online go to Get Safe Online. If you are worried that you may have been a victim of a scam then report it to ActionFraud, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, either online or call 0300 123 2040.

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