Think online fraud is bad? Paper users need to stay safe too...

23rd January 2015

There’s a new website that the Government has launched this month which aims to educate everyone about cyber crime. Called Cyber Streetwise, it has a range of resources aimed at preventing some of the losses that people face online – which totalled an estimated £1 billion last year.

The scale of such losses is staggering, with almost one in five adults losing at least £500. But that’s not all they can lose – their identities can also be something that is stolen.

Ninety per cent of confirmed identity fraud was over the internet, says CIFAS, the UK’s fraud prevention service. But although that may elicit sighs of relief from those who don’t put their financial details online because they prefer to use paper for bills and statements, we shouldn’t be complacent.

CIFAS has said that it’s the all-important card details -plastic debit, credit and store cards are  prime targets - that are the key to such fraud – and we are all too often falling for scams in our own homes. Fraudsters are calling up, pretending to be your bank, and asking for pin numbers and other details to verify who you are. Even when you go off to phone your bank to check it’s a legitimate call, they are devious enough to stay on the line playing a false dialling tone, so you connect straight back to them. Then there are the cons where a caller says there is a problem with your card and sends round a courier to get it, and you blithely hand over the key to your cash.

When I was with our latest pledge adopters Yorkshire Water a few weeks ago, South Yorkshire Police were also there to show us just how easy it is to fall for a scam. We think it won’t happen to us, that we are too savvy, but when CIFAS reveals there are something in the region of 600 frauds carried out every day, then someone is being conned somewhere. And that’s only the instances that are reported – lots of people never admit they have been scammed as they feel foolish.

So whether you have paper bills and statements, go online for transactions, or both, do try and remember that no bank will ever call and ask you for your pin number, and if you are not logged on to a secure website before parting with your details, you could be giving them to anyone. And remember to check your accounts regularly so you can tell if something is amiss – our research has revealed anomalies are easier to spot on paper, so keeping such a service free is a vital tool towards keeping financially safe and secure.

Judith Donovan