In the first half of 2019, losses due to unauthorised financial fraud on payment cards, remote banking and cheques increased by two per cent, to £408.3 million, according to UK Finance. In the trade association’s half year fraud update, it was said that losses are being driven by the theft of customers’ personal and financial data – via a variety of methods. So, how can a person help to protect these kinds of information from scammers? While there may not be a foolproof way, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, Tola Fisher, has shared some simple tips.
1. Use a password manager
While remembering an array of passwords can be a challenge, saving them to devices may not be the best idea when it comes to information security.
“Many of us save our passwords to our devices but you’re putting your data at risk,” Ms Fisher said.
“It makes it easier for criminals to get access to your information if your laptop is stolen. One way to store your passwords is to get a secure password manager, like LastPass or Dashlane. With this software, you only remember one master password.”
2. Update your privacy settings
Another top tip is to take a closer look at the settings a person has when it comes to privacy.
“Most mobile apps let you choose how much and what kind of information is shared with providers,” the personal finance expert said.
“It’s best to always choose the least amount possible. This is because sometimes companies will pass on your data to other businesses.
“Keeping your data more secure means less is available to companies you don’t know.”
3. Secure your phone
“Phones are where your data is most at risk because they can easily be lost or stolen,” Tola warned. “Make sure you have a passcode or fingerprint ID set up.
“Avoid using significant dates or phone numbers. The idea is to make it harder for thieves to get access to data if they do get your phone.”
4. Backup your data
“It’s often overlooked, but backing up your data helps keep it secure. Hackers can hold data hostage for a ransom – it’s called ransomware.
“But there are now plenty of virtual services to hold your pictures or files, such as iCloud. You can also buy an external hard drive to put older files and photos on.”
5. Use phone-locating apps
“Losing your phone can be worrying – a lot of your personal information is on them. Phone-locating apps can help with this by showing your phone’s location on a map.
“They can also let you erase all content. This way your data is safe from falling into the wrong hands.”
6. Update your software
“Updating your phone or laptop’s operating system can take a long time. But they improve functionality and normally have security updates.
“It’s best to update your devices as soon as these come out.”
7. Be careful with free WiFi
While public WiFi may be convenient for usage, the personal finance expert issued a warning to be careful.
“Unlike your WiFi at home, many public connections are not encrypted. This means your online activity could be visible to other people on the network.
“Hackers also have the tools to snoop on what you’re doing. If you’re going to check your bank account or edit your personal details, try to do it at home.”
8. Erase unused apps
While signing up to an array apps may seem like second nature to some, there may be plenty of reasons why one stops using them.
“Social media networks come and go. If you have signed up for any of these, they may still have all the personal information you gave them,” Ms Fisher pointed out.
“When these services disappear from your phone, they take your information with them. Contact apps you don’t use anymore to ask about having your data removed.”
9. Only download trusted apps
“Apps normally ask for permission to access your information. If you download one that seems to be asking too much, it’s worth questioning it.
“Some will also sell your data to third-party companies so they can contact you with offers.
10. Turn off your bluetooth
“Bluetooth can be a gateway for hackers. It’s possible for them to connect to your phone through the open connection.
“The best way to stop attackers is to turn off your device’s bluetooth when you’re not using it.”