Online fraud covers a variety of incidents - including online banking, auction websites, identity theft and online shopping to name just a few.
It is often very easy for some people to forget that they are not dealing face to face with someone and believe what they see to be true, without reservation, or the sort of caution you might apply in dealing with someone face to face.
Action Fraud have produced some very useful steps which you can take in order to prevent yourself becoming a victim of fraud or cyber crime. You can view these on their website.
There's nothing worse than paying for your dream holiday only to find out its a scam. Fraudsters often target people searching for their dream getaway. Follow these top tips to help you outsmart the scammers:
- Don’t reply to unsolicited emails, texts, social media or calls with holiday offers. Links and attachments in emails may lead to malicious websites or download viruses.
- Book a holiday directly with an airline or hotel, or through a reputable agent. Check whether they’re a member of the Association of British Travel Agents.
- If you decide to deal directly with the property owner or a letting agent, ask them questions about the booking, room, location and area. Don’t book on websites that don’t have a padlock icon (https) in the address bar, and be extra cautious if you’re asked to pay using bank transfer or cash; pay by credit or debit card if you can.
Look out for the signs:
- You’re contacted out of the blue by a travel agent or company you’ve never spoken to before, offering a holiday at a very low price.
- The details, pictures or address of the property or hotel on offer look suspicious, or independent website reviews aren’t favourable or don’t exist.
- You’re asked to pay using bank transfer or cash; pay by credit or debit card if you can for extra protection.
How does it happen?
Fraudsters use fake online adverts, bogus sales calls, emails and text messages offering incredibly cheap rates to tempt you in to booking a holiday with them.
Scammers might steal images of hotels or rented apartments from other travel websites or search engines and pass them off as their own.
You’re told to pay in cash or via a bank transfer, such as MoneyWise or Western Union, which can be difficult to trace and isn’t refundable.
You may find out at the airport that you’re not booked on the promised flight, or once you arrive the hotel or letting doesn’t have your name booked for a stay, or extras that were part of your booking – such as excursions or transport – aren’t included.
In some cases, the fraudster may completely end contact after you’ve paid and won’t confirm anything you’ve booked; the holiday they’ve offered doesn’t exist.
You may be offered the chance to go on a free holiday in return for watching a presentation; this is holiday club fraud.
If you think you've been victim of holiday fraud report it to Action Fraud online or call 0300 123 2040. If they're a member of the Association of British Travel Agents, report to them too.
- Online auctions are popular with shoppers - when using auction sites always use strong passwords and never give your passwords to anyone
- When paying on auction sites never transfer the money direct to a bank account, secure sites such as PayPal are usually safer – however payments can be reversed – check the seller's feedback before making a purchase
- Always make sure you have received payment for sales on auction sites before you dispatch the goods – and when posting, use a fully tracked and signed for postal service
- Remember if something appears too good to be true, then it usually is
- If you use online banking it’s important you keep passwords and personal details private to stop criminals accessing your account
- Banks will never ask you to reveal your full password on the phone or by email
- When using online banking be aware of who can see your screen and make sure you log out properly
View the video below which has been produced by Barclays Digital in relation to protecting your information:
- Shopping online can often save time and effort but there are risks too. When shopping online make sure the retailer is reputable, research them online and make sure they have an address and phone number
- Look out for secure "https" links in the address of the website to ensure the site is secure in its payment/form handling methods.
- Paying online by credit card can offer greater protection than other payment methods
- Try to use different passwords for different websites - sharing passwords can be very risky
- Fake scam versions of corporate sites may be set up that look almost identical to the original site - yet may be completely fake. Always check the web address of the page and ensure it is the official website.
Phishing, vishing and smishing
This relates to any website, online service, phone call or text message which poses as a company or brand you recognise such as your bank.
Any contact like this is designed to convince you to hand over valuable personal details or your money, or download something that infects your computer.
The three terms are all plays on the word ‘fishing’, in that the fraudsters fish for potential victims by sending emails (phishing), social media messages or text messages (smishing) or making phone calls with urgent messages (vishing) in the hope of persuading someone to visit the bogus website.
You can find out more information about how to recognise the signs and also ways in which you can protect yourself by visiting the Action Fraud website.
You're more at risk of identity fraud than you think. Sharing personal details like your date of birth, address and phone number can make you vulnerable. Don't make it easy for identity fraudsters. Start by setting your privacy settings.