When you regularly hear reports of hacking, phishing and other online scams resulting in people losing their hard-earned cash, you might be worried about applying for or managing your money online. However, you really don’t need to be.
By taking a few basic precautions, you have the best chance of staying safe online and protecting yourself from identity theft and other cyber scams. Read on for our top safety tips:
Be aware – Before you apply for a financial product on the internet, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of. To start with, if you’re applying for a loan you shouldn’t need to pay an upfront fee so be wary of any company that tries to charge you. Be particularly cautious if you’re asked to make a payment through UKash or similar, as it may be difficult to get a refund.
Under what authority? – UK financial services providers MUST be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) if they lend money. Be sure to check that the lenders you’re thinking of applying to make this clear on their website.
Your bank account – You should always keep your bank card and bank account details private, and be wary of giving this information away online or over the phone. Check out these useful tips published by Bank Safe Online / Financial Fraud Action.
Who’s on the phone? – Unfortunately, there have been reported cases of scammers ringing up customers and pretending to be their bank, before asking them to confirm all their security details. A real bank or lender will never ask you for this information in one go – depending on their procedures they will usually only ask you to confirm certain details each time you call or go online.
New business – As well as scammers pretending to be your existing financial services provider, they may also pose as a business offering you a great deal – for instance, a loan company promising to be able to find you a loan in return for an up-front fee. If you receive a call like this, finish the call, look up their number for yourself online and call the main switchboard. You’ll soon know if the caller was who they said they were.
Read between the lines – If you receive an email claiming to be from your bank or lender, check that all is what it seems. If the email is full of poor spelling and grammar, or missing a logo, it may well be a scam. Even if it looks legitimate, carefully consider what it’s asking you to do. Your financial services provider is unlikely to ever ask you to transfer money or hand over your log-in details. It’s also unlikely to contact you via email if it thinks your account has been tampered with or is at risk, and will phone you instead. If you receive an email asking you to do any of these things, ignore it and give your bank or lender a call.
You can get more useful tips on keeping yourself safe when applying for finance online by heading to the FCA’s own website. Follow these tips to help you confirm that the company you’re dealing with is who they say they are and is offering what they promise.