Across the world, identity theft and fraud are on the rise. Bank account and credit card scams are evolving and becoming increasingly sophisticated so it's crucial for customers to be able to recognise fraud when it happens, and to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their assets.
While it may be true that fraudsters have traditionally targeted the wealthy, today's victims come from a variety of backgrounds and income brackets.
Banks are setting up more elaborate firewalls and protection systems to prevent criminals from hacking into their customers' accounts and these have gone a long way in helping address the issue.
However, customers have a crucial role to play as well and they must take responsibility for reducing the likelihood of falling victim to fraudulent activity.
At Lloyds TSB in the Middle East, we take security very seriously and have adopted a number of steps to make banking for our customers more secure. Here are our top tips which can help you to keep your money and your personal account details safe:
1. Check your statements regularly and promptly
Many of us neglect to review our bank statements and we can leave envelopes unopened for weeks. Criminals often start by taking small and random amounts from your account to see if you will detect these transactions.
Later on, they may increase the amount they withdraw, creating a steady drain on your funds. The sooner you detect fraud, the sooner you can end it.
2.Keep your pin number safe
Never share your PIN with anyone and never write it down and store it near your card. Writing down sensitive information makes the criminal's job easier and leaves you open to fraud.
3. Look after your credit and debit cards
Always be careful of what you do with your credit or debit card. Shield your transactions whenever you use an ATM or pay for goods. Inspect the ATM you are using before you insert your card, keeping an eye out for any ‘skimming' devices which could have been added to the machine and which could read your card details and pin number. If something looks wrong with the ATM don't ignore your instincts! ATMs which are located within bank branches are always the safest option.
Avoid throwing sensitive information directly in the dustbin. Shred unwanted confidential documents, bank statements and unused cheques. Anything that you need to keep for your records should be filed away securely and safely.
5. Be safe online
When shopping online, make sure that you have a security programme or virus protection system installed on your computer.
Use different passwords for your accounts and always use a combination of alpha-numeric characters and punctuation marks. Avoid accessing private account details over public WI-FI networks as these may not be secure.
6. Unsolicited emails
Many banks will send their customers marketing or services updates via email, however your bank should never ask you for personal information or account details through this channel. Be wary of emails that ask you to divulge secure personal or account details, purporting to be from your bank. It is also a good idea to visit a bank's website by typing the address into your browser rather than following a link in an email which could be corrupt.
Despite the rising threat of bank account fraud, it is easy to take a number of steps to safeguard your personal data and your accounts, making the job of a criminal harder. Unfortunately, crime is a reality of the world we live in. If you do suspect that you have become a victim of fraud, contact your bank and the authorities as soon as possible.
Review your statements and your transactions carefully and close any bogus accounts that may have been opened in your name. Your bank should issue you with new stationary including a debit or credit card and a chequebook.
Some criminals may think they are smart, but by taking a number of simple steps, you can make bank account fraud a lot harder for them!