Protecting ourselves from online fraud

Ten years ago, on June 29, 2007, the original iPhone went on sale six months after Steve Jobs introduced it to the world. This was the advent of the Smart Phone. Yes, Blackberrys existed before that, but they weren’t really that “smart”.

Ten years later, we have the head of the National Audit Office (NAO) saying online fraud has been overlooked by the government, the police and businesses.

How many of us now shop online thanks to the relative ease of doing so using our smart phones, tablets or lap-tops? Similarly, how many of us do all our banking online on the same devices?

I imagine that, for the computer literate criminally minded, it is far easier than it used to be to steal from others online than through physical burglary or theft. The very tools that we perceive to have made our lives easier are making the lives of those criminals easier. From the article: “Online fraud includes criminals accessing citizens' and businesses' bank accounts, using their credit card details, or tricking them into transferring money.”

Sir Amyas Morse suggests an urgent response is called for and that it should be coordinated by the Home Office. I would suggest that we can all help ourselves, too. We can do that right now.

Be careful where you use your information online. Check bank statements and credit card statements regularly for anything that you think is suspicious. And, if an investment you are being introduced to through unsolicited contact, be that by e-mail or otherwise, seems too good to be true, it probably is. Check that anyone giving you investment advice is appropriately regulated and licenced to do so.

Although doing these things might not prevent you being the subject of financial crime, they will certainly reduce the chances.