Identity fraud scares the bejesus out of me. I change my passwords frequently and worry that my computer has been hacked if it slows down. I'm probably overly paranoid, but you really can't be too careful.
Key loggers really scare me. They are little bits of software, which record everything you type on a computer – including your bank passwords when you log in. The key loggers record your passwords and send the data off to a hacker somewhere in Eastern Europe or Nigeria usually. How these get on your computer is that you click on a link in an infected email – that may have even come from a friends email address that has been hijacked and the software loads itself without you knowing..
I've blogged before about my personal experience of having my identity stolen and a line of credit card opened in my name. So I can't agree more with Mike Heath who a few weeks back blogged that banks need better security measures.
One thing that concerns me is that many of the high street banks say they will refund you providing you've paid sufficient attention to security. But what if, like insurance companies, they started enforcing the fine print to the nth degree?
I'm sure if a mainstream bank customer lost a few hundred thousand dollars through fraud the bank might try to argue long and hard and get the lawyers in to avoid paying out. As a result I think spreading your accounts around makes really good sense from a security perspective. Then you can't have all your accounts hacked at once.
It's not just your bank accounts at risk. If someone opens a store card in your name you could be in real trouble. Dealing with the likes of GE Money, Q Card and other finance companies is hard in the best of times. Ask any customer who has fallen behind with payments. Imagine trying to convince one of these faceless organisations that someone had opened an account in your name or got a replacement card sent out to him or her?
The people I really fear for are the technophobes of this world, who struggle with opening and replying to emails, let alone being able to differentiate spam from real email. I'm a pretty tech savvy computer user. Even so, I occasionally sit staring at an email wondering if it's for real, or incredibly clever spam.
Of course it's not just your computer that is at risk. Your good old fashioned mail box can be even easier to hack than a computer. Fraudsters can bag the information they need to steal your identity by raiding your letterbox or rubbish bin. That's no joke, it happens.
- Don't let your credit card out of your sight in restaurants or shops
- Never use Internet-café or other public computers for logging into your bank, financial information or Trade Me
- Have up-to-date anti-virus plus anti-spyware software loaded and running
- Ensure any websites you shop on have the "https://" prefix, which has added levels of security
- Change passwords regularly and don't use the same password for many sites
- Check your credit record once a year with Veda Advantage
- Have important mail sent to a secure mailbox if possible, and clear your mailbox as soon as you can each day.
Do you have any tips on how to prevent online fraud?