• Identity theft is becoming more prolific
  • Don’t throw away your bills, invoices or bank statements without shredding them
  • If someone phones and you don’t know who they are, you never have to give them your PIN number, bank or building society card number or online banking password. When in doubt, hang up the phone

Many organisations have their own fraud and financial crime teams and if you do business with them they encourage you to contact them if you’re worried or suspect you are the victim of fraud.

Protecting your personal information has never been more important than it is today. And to help you understand the ways you can do this, we’ve put together these handy hints and tips.

The key to protecting yourself, is if it feels too good to be true, then it probably is.

What is phishing and vishing?

You might have heard or read these words in the news or from your bank or building society. They’re both techniques that people use to try and get your information for their own use.

Phishing

You receive an email from your bank telling you that there has been some fraudulent activity on your account. They need you to log in to confirm your identity using the link they have provided.

The email looks genuine, and it has the bank or building society’s logo, uses their branding and sounds like it’s from them. But is it? The answer is, probably not.

Banks and building societies won’t ask you to log in to confirm your identify if there’s been fraudulent activity. They generally lock your account until you can prove your identity by calling them or by visiting a branch.

How to spot if it’s genuine?

  • It’s good to be aware of these types of emails, your bank or building society will be happy to answer your questions in branch or you can phone them for confirmation
  • If you’ve already clicked on the link in the email you were sent, and it opens a web browser, look at the link address. This will almost always be different to the genuine one. Close the browser window immediately
  • Look for spelling mistakes, many fraudsters make simple typo errors or grammar mistakes
  • Do you even have an account with this bank or building society? If not, it’s fake
  • Contact your bank or building society and ask them directly
  • Make sure you have antivirus software installed and it is up-to-date
  • Open a new web browser, using the genuine link you know and trust, check your account this way.
  • Once you know it’s a phishing email, forward it to your bank or building society, they all have an email address to send them to

Vishing

Criminals don’t just use the internet, they exploit other methods too, and many scams still use the telephone.

Vishing is a telephone call from a person pretending to be someone else. They might say they’re from your bank, building society or a well-known or reputable company.

One of the most popular is you’ll get a call from someone, sometimes saying they are the police or your bank warning you there has been fraud detected on your bank account and you need to phone them.  They advise you to call your bank, but they don’t hang up.

The criminal then waits for you to put the phone down and dial your bank. What you don’t realise is, you’re still connected to and talking to the fraudsters. They’ll ask you for your account numbers and PIN codes.

Remember, banks and building societies will never ask for your PIN number, card number or online password. If they do, it’s a fraudster!

Other scams could be offering you the chance to take part in a lottery, or telling you that you’ve won a large amount of money from a far-away country but you need to give them your bank details to collect your prize.

In any situation, you never have to give out your details, no matter how much they try and persuade you to do so.

How to protect yourself?

Remember, never feel any pressure to give out your information, you are always in control, and these handy tips will help you feel more secure.

  • You don’t have to give out your information to anyone
  • No matter what the person says to you over the phone, you can always hang up
  • A bank or building society will never ask you for your PIN number, it’s yours – if anyone asks for it, hang up
  • Never give out your bank account number, sort code, credit or debit card details to anyone you don’t know
  • If someone phones you and keeps reassuring you with phrases like “you can trust me just give me your details, I’m from [a company name]” it’s likely to be false

Identity theft

Every day you’re likely to bump into someone who’s been a victim of identity theft. It’s costly in both money and emotionally.

It can take time to get sorted out but with the amount of information available to thieves, how can you protect yourselves? Our top tips explain how:

  • Always use a cross-cut shredder to destroy documents with personal information on them before you put them in the recycling bin – even small amounts of information can be used
  • Never publicise your personal details on social media like your address, phone numbers, who you bank with, parent’s names, date of birth or your national insurance (NI) number
  • Be careful about which websites you join, check they are genuine and won’t share your personal data – remember, keep safe online
  • Keep your computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone up-to-date with the latest software and invest in antivirus software
  • Don’t leave important documents in your car, keep them safely inside your home
  • You could always use a safe to store your passports and driving licences

Get safe online has many more ideas, hints and tips for you to keep your information private and protect your identity.

It's not just financial crime that can catch you out. Take a look at our handy guide to protect yourselves from holiday fraud.

Sources:

NIDirect: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/protect-your-identity

Action Fraud: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/