Protecting yourself against fraud

Financial Fraud Action UK (whose members include banks, credit debit and charge card issuers, and card payment acquirers in the UK) recently released their latest fraud figures for January to June 2016, and they highlight a troubling trend: the value of financial fraud rose to £399.5m for that six month period.

To put that into context, it’s up 25% compared to the same period in 2015, with credit card and remote banking fraud growing fastest, and amounts to the equivalent of more than £5 per person in the UK in just six months.

It is all too common to hear about someone who submitted his or her personal information to a questionable website, handed over bank details over the phone or replied to an email that appeared to be from a bank.

Despite the fact that many of us should know better – police, financial institutions, credit agencies and others have been advising us against everything in the preceding paragraph for years – we’re all human (I include myself in that!) and occasionally we’re prone to being tricked.

Making sense of the advice

There’s a lot of very sensible advice out there. Some useful steps include:

  • Shredding any paperwork which contains personal information

  • Use a unique, long password for every online account you have

  • Regularly review your credit file

  • Check your bank statement each month for suspicious transactions

  • Download only from reputable websites that you trust

And there’s a wealth of information online too.

So what should we all be doing in practice? The lazy answer is “all of the above and more”, but, in the same way that the best diet is the one you stick to, the best security precautions are the ones you’ll actually keep up.

Of course, the above actions are highly recommended, but we recognise that you’re more likely to protect yourself if we make it as convenient as possible – and ideally something that you do automatically. For example, how many people obtain a regular copy of their credit file and closely review it? How many people really look at their bank or credit card statement each month and shred it when they’re done with it?

Practical steps

Right now, in about two minutes, you can make your RateSetter account much more secure:

If you’re using the same password for RateSetter as for another website, please change it (there’s a great guide here).

Another useful step is to use a second factor to login alongside your username and password. RateSetter has a security option for a PIN number to be text to your mobile that you’ll enter when you login. This can be found in your Account Preferences page and I would encourage you to use this to secure your account in this way, not only with but us also with any other providers who offer this.

Why should I bother?

There’s no such thing as an unbreakable safe, and there’s no such thing as perfect online security either. But by taking these steps, you’ll make yourself a harder – and therefore much less attractive – target.

If you are the victim of fraud, the effects of lost money and damage to credit file can take many months to recover from if left undiscovered, so being proactive can help save time and stress should the worst happen.

In practice, making yourself even a little bit safer online with basic precautions won’t make you “unhackable”, but it will make you much less likely to be a victim.