Protecting your privacy

Dealing with bank fraud is a nightmare, so Drew shares his top five tips to help protect your private information.

1. Paper statements
We are all guilty of throwing out banking, credit card, telephone and even electricity bill statements. With any of these statements in their possession, criminals can steal your identity which can result in months of frustration in proving you were the target of criminal activity and even financial loss. It is important to always use a shredder when disposing of documents and statements containing sensitive information.

2. Shoulder surfing
The bank or post office is the last place you would expect to have your personal information stolen, but over the past decade we have seen an increase in criminals gaining personal account information by using the art of shoulder surfing. This is where the criminal stands next to the victim while they fill out a banking slip or bill and pretend to be filling out their own slip, while they are actually writing down all of the victims details.

3. Skimming
Over the past five years, tens of thousands of Australians have been the target of skimming. Skimming is where a device that records the details of your ATM card is inserted into an ATM. The device is so small that to the untrained eye it just looks like part of the machine. There is also normally a camera pointed at the keypad of the machine. To help reduce the risk of falling victim to skimming, always protect your pin number by holding one hand over the keypad.

4. Phone calls

There are several, well thought out, phone scams around at the moment. Two of the craftiest have to be the ‘Microsoft scam’ and the ‘bank scam’.

The Microsoft scam typically involves a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be a Microsoft specialist, saying they have received an error report about your computer, and are calling you to fix it. What happens next, is you are directed to a website to download a program that gives the scammer complete control over your computer and can result in loss of financial details.

The bank scam is similar but this time you receive a phone call from a person claiming to be from your bank. Generally, the caller will have your full name, date of birth and home details. To sound genuine, they will read back this information to you to ‘confirm’ who you are. All of this information is easily accessed. The caller will then try and gain your account or credit card information.

When receiving unsolicited phone calls out of the blue, always be cautious. If you are unsure, ask if you can call the person back and never use the ‘direct line’ given to you, always use the switch board number listed on the company’s website.

5. Emails

When it comes to emails, you should always be careful with what you open and view. Unless the email is from someone you know, never click a link or open attachments as this can allow a virus to be downloaded to your computer. There has been a recent trend for hackers to take over people’s email accounts and send viruses through links and attachments from what would normally be a trusted source. These emails are pretty generic and will look very unusual coming from your friends or family. So if it looks like a scam, it most likely is.

Written by Drew Patchell

Drew Patchell was the Digital Operations Manager of YourLifeChoices. He joined YourLifeChoices in 2005 after completing his Bachelor of Business at Swinburne University. Drew has a passion for all things technology which is only rivalled for his love of all things sport.

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