Everybody thinks that fraud is the kind of thing that happens to other people, rather than themselves. That is, until it takes them well and truly by surprise.
On the plus side, there’s plenty each and every one of us can do to significantly reduce the likelihood of being targeted by fraudsters. Or at least, prevent significant damage being done if you are targeted.
Here are 10 simple yet effective things to start doing right now to protect yourself:
1. Identify scams
First up, it’s worth reading up on and remaining up to date with the latest scams. From e-mail phishing to telephone scams to various types of data theft, it’s worth heading over to resources like Scambusters.org to learn exactly how to identify a scam when you see it.
2. Keep personal information secret
Under no circumstances should your personal information ever be given to anyone other than yourself. Be suspicious of any ‘company’ that gets in touch with you and ask for your personal information.
3. Change your passwords and PIN
Along with ensuring your passwords and PINs are as strong as possible, it’s also important to ensure that they are changed on a regular basis. Never use anything that could be easily guessed or gradually worked out.
4. Check out your credit report
Check your credit report from time to time for any signs of suspicious activity. Should you come across anything suspicious, report it to the relevant authority or service provider immediately.
5. Shred sensitive documents
Never make the mistake of throwing our documents that contain any potentially sensitive personal information. Shred or burn such documents to prevent your personal data falling into the wrong hands.
6. Watch for unusual activity
It’s also important to keep an eye on things like bank statements, credit card bills and all your online accounts in general, for signs of unusual activity. Always take anything even slightly out of the ordinary seriously.
7. Share your knowledge
Try to ensure that your friends and family members take an equally proactive approach to fraud prevention. Criminals typically have absolutely no shame when it comes to targeting those who are most vulnerable – i.e. those who do least to protect themselves.
8. Be suspicious of everything
From phone calls to emails to promotional information, be suspicious of anything and everything that comes your way. Unless you are 100% convinced of the legitimacy of the communication and its source, treat it as suspicious and stay away.
9. Avoid public Wi-Fi
Always remember that it only takes a matter of seconds for your device and your personal information to be hacked when using public Wi-Fi connections. Which means that if you are going to use a public Wi-Fi connection, avoid accessing any of your accounts or entering any sensitive information/credentials whatsoever.
10. Report it
Last but not least, each and every time you come across anything that is even remotely suspicious, it needs to be reported. Even if it turns out to be nothing, it is better to be safe than sorry. The problem being that each time suspicious activity is not brought to the attention of the authorities, somebody somewhere is getting away with scamming members of the public like you.