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How to prevent digital fraud

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The digital age is transforming the world around us, but is it also enabling new forms of fraud that businesses and individuals alike have not dealt with. Conversations about cybersecurity are becoming increasingly important as our digital footprints are expanding.

As the world moves further within the digital sphere it is no surprise that digital banking fraud is steadily increasing. There are increasing opportunities for cyber criminals to attack individuals and businesses. Fraudsters are always trying to find ways to make a quick buck and the growth of the internet has made this easier than ever before. This is demonstrated by the latest annual SITEisfaction report showing digital banking fraud is at an all-time high in South Africa.

According to Fin24, these are the latest scams that appeared in 2018:

  • About 8% of users fell victim to the “You are a winner” Pay-to-Play scam;
  • About 13% of users fell victim to the advanced “Free Loan”/ “Prequalified Loan or Credit Card” scam;
  • About 4% of users were taken advantage of with the “Request for Help” e-mail fraud, which is regarded the “natural evolution” of the 419-scam – asking for help and promising riches in return;
  • About 6% of users fell victim to the traditional 419-scam;
  • Phishing scams are still a frequent occurrence, with 36% of respondents being targeted, and 7% falling victim to it in the last year.

From identity theft to phishing scams, digital fraud is an unfortunate reality that shows no signs of slowing down. Anyone can become a victim to digital fraud, so we have put together a couple of useful tips to help you battle digital fraud in its many forms.

Password Security

Your passwords are initial line of defence when protecting your accounts and data. However, if you are using the same password for every account, or a similar one, you are placing yourself at a disadvantage. Avoid password recycling at all costs. If not, hackers can easily gather your personal information (date of birth, address, mother maiden name etc) which they will use to answer security questions to access your bank account or credit card information.

Bank accounts and online shopping often use multi-factor verification, but most of your other accounts, like social media and emails, do not. If one of your accounts is hacked, and you use the same password, then all of your accounts will be hacked.

If you struggle to remember all your passwords, it is best to write them down and keep them in a safe place. Alternatively, you can use a password manager that stores all your passwords securely. Many password mangers can also generate random passwords for you to use.

Your passwords should all be more than 8 characters, include numbers, letters and special characters, as well as being random. You should also regularly change your passwords, especially for online banking.

Improve Threat Detection

If you are doing anything online, you should have a reputable anti-virus and malware protection software installed. This is an initial barrier to hackers and fraudsters. This type of software is used to catch any malicious software or threat to your internet security before you even know it is happening. Always keep these products updated, as the newer software will offer you greater protection.

Safe Surfing

When going online make sure to use a secure computer at home or work, especially for online banking. Avoid using public or shared computers, like at an Internet Café, for online banking as you can never be sure what software is loaded and this could compromise your data. If you are connecting to a public/free Wi-Fi network, consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This protects your data and browsing from any interference or snooping from anyone trying to access your data via the Wi-Fi connection.

Once you are done with your online banking or shopping, remember to always log out and to disable the “remember passwords” feature on your browser.

Phishing scams

Phishing scams are very common attack from hackers to get your information. Cybercriminals are able to make emails and SMS look legitimate that then use scare tactics to trick you into ‘confirming’ your account details. Don’t open unfamiliar e-mails or attachments, and never click on links in emails or SMS’s.

If you are concerned about a message from the bank, give them a call directly and ask them to confirm the information. It is worth downloading your banks mobile app to your phone as these offer secure encryption and two-factor authentication.

Simple summary

As a digital consumer, you need to remain vigilant. Any sort of digital hack can have your data compromised and can have devastating consequences. It is important to be aware of the latest scam trends and always remember the following:

  • Don’t recycle your passwords
  • Use a secure browser
  • Use an anti-virus
  • Use a VPN
  • Be cautious online shopping
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