Fraud and bank scams are not new. But the internet has given cunning thieves a new world of opportunities to steal money from their account.
While we have benefited from the technology that allows us to buy online and transfer money at the push of a button, cybercriminals have developed sophisticated techniques to exploit it.
So, if you do online banking, follow our essential guide to keep your cash and personal data safe.
Double verification: phishing emails could come from trusted authorities such as your bank,
One of the main problems is that the police do not have the time or resources to respond to these crimes, says Suzanne Raftery, a former detective with the Metropolitan Police who is now head of investigations at Requite Solutions, a fraud consultancy.
"Scam warnings seem to reach people too late," he says.
"He's never 100 percent sure, but there are things he can do to reduce his chances of being a victim and losing his hard earned money."
Do not respond to suspicious emails
Scammers constantly find new ways to flood your inbox with emails designed to steal your personal information.
These so-called "phishing" messages may seem to come from trusted authorities such as your bank, government organizations like HMRC, or a retailer known as Argos or Amazon.
Some may warn you that your account has been compromised and you must click on a link to verify your personal information.
Others may claim that you are owed a refund, such as a tax refund, or that you have won a prize.
Usually, they ask you to click on a fake website and enter your information to receive payment. By doing so, you will be giving scammers everything they need to steal your identity or money.
Some emails may also require you to download a coupon or form. In reality, this is a virus that will infect your computer or smartphone, and steal the information stored in it, or block your device, so that scammers can extort and restore it.
Make sure your spam filter is activated; This should be an option in the configuration of your account. If you receive suspicious-looking emails, mark them as garbage and delete them.
Never click on links in unsolicited emails, no matter how genuine they appear. Your bank will never ask you to verify your password or personal information in this way.
HMRC says it will never send you an email, text message or call to inform you of a tax refund or fine, or to request personal information.
Apple says it will never ask for your password to provide support. If you are not sure if an email is genuine, do not respond. Instead, call the organization using the number on your website.
Know who you are talking to
Scammers are prolifically active over the phone. Usually, they call to pose as a staff member of your bank or police and tell you that you have been a victim of fraud or that some suspicious transactions have been identified in your account.
They can be very convincing and already know many details about you, such as your name, address, date of birth, phone number and even your mother's maiden name.
The number they call may seem the same as your bank's. Do not be fooled: much of your personal information may be freely available in online directories or social networks, and it is very easy to "fake" a phone number to make it look genuine. The software to do this is free and available online for thieves.
You may be advised to move your money to a "secure account". that the scammer controls.
Or, if the offender tries to access your account or has already registered by collecting your information in advance, you may be asked to verify your identity by reading an access code sent to your mobile phone.
This code is genuine and is sent to you by your bank to make sure that you are approving a transaction and that is what the scammer needs to steal the money directly from your bank account.
Your bank or the police will never call you and ask you to transfer your money to another account for fraud reasons, nor will you be required to make a transaction on the spot. In addition, you will never be asked to buy items such as Rolex watches to identify them as fakes, another common way of tricking victims into withdrawing their cash.
In other cases, thieves may pretend to be from their broadband provider and offer to install software on their computer remotely. If you give your consent, they can control your computer and see what you see on the screen. That can allow them to access their accounts and steal thousands.
Never give cold callers access to your computer. If you suspect, hang up and call your provider using the number on your website.
Report suspicious transactions
If you detect a payment on your bank statement that you did not make, be sure to report it to your bank.
You are required to reimburse you if you have not been negligent with your information. For example, if you give your PIN to someone else and then commit fraud in your account, it is unlikely that you will get your money back.
Fraud expert Suzanne Raftery of Requite Solutions says: "There are so many victims of fraud and not enough people to investigate and solve these crimes, which is why it is important to take a proactive approach to your own personal risk. Clear lack of collaboration and a reluctance to share data and trends Action Fraud, the cybercrime reporting service, is overwhelmed and the police can not firmly investigate the few fraud cases they select.
Of the 600,000 reports received by the Action Fraud in 2016/17, more than 280,000 were classified as crimes. Only 25 PCs were sent to the police forces for further investigation, and 14 PCs resulted in action.
A spokesperson for Action Fraud says the scale and nature of the threat of fraud means it can be incredibly difficult to make arrests. He says: "Other tactics, like crime prevention, should be used."
Be careful: your bank or the police will never call you and ask you to transfer your money to another account for fraud reasons,
Avoid paying by bank transfer
Many scammers will try to convince you to pay money directly into your account by bank transfer. They know that, unlike other payment methods, such as credit and debit cards, there is no protection for victims. That means there is very little chance that the bank will recover the stolen funds from the thief, and it will run out of money.
If you have been tricked into making a bank transfer to an offender's account, your bank will consider that you authorized the payment. This is a problem. Since the transaction is considered to be willing, the bank may refuse to offer a refund.
Staff can contact the fraudster's bank to see if funds remain in that account. If so, your bank may return some money.
But in most cases, scammers exhaust their accounts as soon as the money arrives. It is usually transferred to a number of other accounts, often abroad, and may become impossible to trace. It can also be used to make large purchases online or withdraw cash.
On the contrary, if you pay by card, you will be protected if things go wrong. For example, if the items do not materialize and you have paid by debit card, you may be able to recover your money through the so-called chargeback rules. Credit cards offer stronger protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Law.
PayPal is also a safer way to pay than bank transfer. You agree to reimburse you if the item you ordered does not appear or is not as described. However, there are exceptions to this, such as vehicles and industrial machinery.
Blocking: thieves can execute your password through a free online software known as & # 39; credentials & # 39 ;, so do not use the same login data in multiple places
Use smart passwords
Using the same password for all your accounts may seem convenient, but also dangerous. If your password is leaked in a data breach or is discovered by a scammer through other means, you are in serious trouble.
For example, criminals can execute their password through free online software known as & # 39; filled credentials & # 39; to verify other sites that you can access with that information.
The top prize for them would be their bank account or another service where payments can be made, such as PayPal. Chris Gough, technical director of the Mintivo IT consultancy, suggests using a password manager to store and organize your passwords.
Simply enter all the different login details for the various websites you use, and the password manager provides you with a master code to access all of them.
Mr. Gough recommends Lastpass and Onepassword, which store information securely. There are applications for both iPhone and Android devices that are free. Search & # 39; password manager & # 39; in the app store you use.
The main weakness with password managers, says Mr. Gough, is to have all your eggs in one basket. Then, if a scammer manages to access the system, he will have all the passwords of all his accounts.
To avoid this, suggest choosing a long, unique and random password for the administrator account and apply two-factor authentication. This means that they send you a text message when you log in, verify that it is you, and not a scammer, who tries to access your account.
In other accounts, such as online banking, activate two-step verification where you can.
This is where an additional level of security is applied, such as when you log on to online banking or when you set up a new beneficiary.
You can send a six-digit code per text to your mobile phone to write online, for example.
Some banks, such as HSBC, offer customers small devices that also offer additional security. The secure HSBC key, a device the size of a credit card, generates a code that can then be entered into your mobile banking and online banking application.
Be careful with email requests to pay cash elsewhere
Whether you are buying a house or paying for a home renovation, be sure to keep an eye on your emails. If your builder or lawyer requests payment to a bank account other than the one previously agreed upon, be sure to call them to verify before making the transaction.
Scammers who pose as your transmitter, builder, or other trusted parties may try to trick you into transferring large sums, often hundreds of thousands in the case of a home purchase, to an account they operate.
They can explain that they are having problems with the original account. The email address from which it is sent may look very similar to that of your lawyer or builder, or it may even be the same, if your account has been hacked.
If you receive an email from who you believe is a reliable party requesting payment in an alternate account, call your contact directly to verify.
Whenever you transfer money to a new beneficiary, send a small amount first, for example, £ 1.
Call to verify that the money has arrived before transferring the rest.
Movil House? Tell your bank
It is very easy for a scammer to intercept your publication. It is worrisome that many letters include enough details for an offender to open bank accounts, telephone contracts and even credit cards in his name.
Then, if you move out of the house, inform your bank, utility company, local authority or whoever sends you invoices as soon as possible.
That way, they will stop sending statements to your previous address, where they could fall into the wrong hands. The old letters can be picked up by anyone, especially if they share a building.
If you use social networks, make sure you have the correct privacy settings. For example, be careful when sharing confidential information such as your birthday on your profile page on Facebook.
Do not include your middle name and try not to publish too much personal information about yourself or your family members. Scammers can obtain information about you from various sources and put it together to steal your identity.
When registering to vote, check the box to choose not to participate in the edited register of the Electoral Report to avoid unsolicited marketing mail.
If you start receiving credit card statements or contracts for which you did not sign up, talk to your bank and the provider.
Make sure the cars on Ebay are real
It can be difficult to detect a false eBay list of an original, but make mistakes and lose thousands of pounds.
Hundreds of fake auto listings are viewed and reported every day on eBay. There are more than 5,500 members of the Ebay Vehicle Scam Alerts group on Facebook, who publicly post all the fraudulent lists they find to warn others. Fraudsters typically include the vehicle as a classified ad on the site to allow buyers and sellers to communicate directly by email, away from eBay's payment processes. They may be selling many vehicles, but there will be no consistency with respect to the photos.
For example, the funds may suggest different cities or environments, suggesting that the images were taken from the Internet.
In addition, the photos could have been taken from genuine websites where the car is sold. You may notice that the descriptive text in the list is pasted as a photo instead of typed text. This is to prevent you from copying and pasting the words into Google to see if it appeared elsewhere.
The fraudster will typically make an excuse as to why he can not see the vehicle before paying, for example, they can say they are traveling or working out.
Next, they will request a payment by bank transfer outside the eBay payment system. Once he paid and agreed on a delivery date, the criminal usually disappears and the vehicle never shows up.
When the victims realize they have been scammed, the money has been released from the scammer's account and can not be traced. The vehicles are not included in the eBay money back guarantee scheme, so it is not covered by errors.
Always demand to see the vehicle before buying it and never pay by bank transfer. The banks will argue that you authorized the payment despite having been cheated and will refuse to reimburse it.
More important tips
1. Check if your bank offers free security software for your computer to protect it from viruses
2. Use a credit card when shopping online. This gives you additional protection if the items are false or do not appear. You can ask the card provider to cover your losses using the rules of § 75 & # 39; It also means that you are better protected if someone obtains the details of your card. The scammer will spend the bank's money and will have no way to access their savings.
3. Check your credit file with Experian, Equifax or TransUnion to make sure that identity thieves have not taken out loans in your name.