Danielle McCarthy

Legal

How to outsmart the scammers

How to outsmart the scammers

Our lives are literally now stored on our smartphones.

As convenient as mobile technology is, it does leave us vulnerable.

Common scams include:

  • Hoax messages that prompt you to reveal personal information;
  • Malware that if inadvertently downloaded can track your web surfing and keystrokes;
  • Fake phone surveys to trick you into divulging personal details;
  • Website scams designed to trap lots of people;
  • Phone porting, where criminals switch your phone to another network to gain access to your calls and messages.

So be sure to heed these simplified tips to protect the valuable data on your various devices.

1. Get cagey

Set your smartphone and tablet - mobile devices in particular - to lock. Then keep the pass codes secret. The same goes with net banking passwords and, whatever you do, don't make these the same as your device-unlock Pin or store them in a device that can be used for bank access.

Your sim needs a Pin too.

All of the above Pins and codes need to be difficult to guess, including by someone with access to other details about you.

Don't send any personal, Pin or account information by text either. This can be easily intercepted and might provide all that's needed for a fraudster to steal your identity.

2. Get clingy

Be really careful about the physical location of your digital device. Do you know where it is at all times? Is it secure? Are you sure no-one is watching your activities over your shoulder?

And - this one might not have even occurred to you - always delete any bank text messages, especially before lending your phone, discarding it or selling it.

You also need to alert your bank as soon as possible after unauthorised activity or if you lose or have a device stolen (and providing your new mobile number will be vital if your bank does use SMS to authenticate transactions).

3. Get cluey

You would be unlikely to leave your home computer without a firewall and antivirus protection so, if you can get it, why would you do that to your tablet and smartphone?

Keep the software up to date too, because criminals constantly try to outsmart the defensive technology. Then make sure any financial apps are the real deal and download them only from official app stores. Some free downloads, programs, software and screensavers can hide malware.

Don't conduct any banking using unsecured wi-fi networks or on non-standard devices.

In terms of protecting data you share, read the privacy policies - those behind the "Do you agree to the terms and conditions?" box - before providing personal information. Are you really willing to accept how and for how long your details will be used?

It's also worth making special mention here of one of the most successful fraud techniques: the pull-at-the-heart-strings email. Any such communication, no matter how desperate, worthy or impressive the backstory, or how generous the financial scenario, is geared at emptying your bank account.

You should be incredibly sceptical of any unsolicited offer that seems too good to be true.

Remember, too, that banks do not email web page links and request your confidential details - scamsters do.

4. Get clear

Some mobile devices store copies of web pages, which could include banking information, so regularly clear your browser's cache (in settings). Always log out of net banking sessions.

And my personal two cents - perhaps don't use your smartphone for all your photos and footage.

Have you ever fallen victim to a scam?