10th August 2016
Crime figures in England and Wales have soared by 107 per cent as, for the first time, Office for National Statistics figures now include fraud and cyber offences. The figures show that on average one in 12 adults is a victim of fraud, and one in 22 is a victim of cyber fraud. At Myers & Co Solicitors we take the risk of fraud very seriously and have put a number of measures in place to keep your data safe and make our systems as secure as possible. For example, you may have noticed this statement at the bottom of our emails:
‘Please note that we do not, and will never, inform you of any changes to our bank details by telephone or email. If in doubt always verify our bank details by calling our offices.’
Here are our top tips to help protect you from becoming the victim of cyber fraud:
Your name, address, date of birth, email and telephone numbers are valuable information to criminals. Think carefully before handing out all your details and shred any letters before putting them in the bin.
Using the same passwords on different sites can leave you, and the site, open to being hacked. This is especially important for anyone buying or selling a house, where large amounts of money are at stake. Consider developing your own password system, or using a password manager app to help you to keep track.
The National Crime Agency is urging all internet users to ensure that they have up-to-date operating systems and antivirus software installed on their machines and mobile phones.
Never open an email or attachment or download a file from an unknown sender; it could contain a virus. If the email asks you to send money, or purports to be from a company telling you their bank details or phone number have changed, you should verify the details in person.
Fraudsters have even sent letters on headed paper pretending to be from a bank, or other institution. Look out for any differences in your usual correspondence, such as the type of paper or watermark.
Never give out your password or PIN on the telephone, or agree to turn your computer on and enter your username and password. A common trick is a telephone call from someone pretending they need to fix a problem with your computer or internet connection. They then try to access your accounts remotely.
This is where fraudsters try to ‘steal’ your property, most commonly by pretending to be you and selling or mortgaging it without your knowledge. Unregistered property is more at risk so you can protect yourself by registering it at the Land Registry and signing up to their free property alert service. They will notify you if there is any suspicious activity using your property, and give you a chance to take action.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice, and the law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.