Internet crime is an issue in any community in any part of the World.
There are still some very safe ways of using your bank details and then there are unsafe ways. The trick is knowing to whom you are disclosing your information.
If you are sent an e-mail asking for your on-line banking details, never reply. Send it on to your bank so it can investigate and delete it from your PC. Never click on a link in the email that takes you to a website. This could give the criminals access to your details. If you have replied to such an e-mail, tell your bank immediately so it can monitor your account.
Quite often, this 'phishing' e-mails will address you as Dear Sir/Madam/Customer, but banks will always use your full name when starting an official e-mail to you. Even then, they will never ask you to update your details by means of sending full disclosure of your password or account number. As they do on the phone when you call them, they will ask for parts of your password or other such security checks that means you never have to give your password out in full at any time to the operator.
If you are contacted by the bank by phone and they ask for full account details, then please discontinue the call. You can then find your bank number and call them directly to ask if that call was following bank procedures if you so wish. If your bank does call you, it may be in connection with a recent transaction or withdrawal you made from a cash machine it wants to check and it may ask for certain characters from your password. Your bank is more likely to ask for personal information such as your mother's maiden name or the first school you attended.
Fraudsters may also access your on-line banking details by sending viruses to your computer. This is sometimes known as 'pharming.' This basically allows criminals to spy on your computer and see what is stored on it. Never open a spam (unexpected and usually unwanted) e-mails because by doing so you might download a virus.
It is essential to have good security on your computer including a firewall that prevents hacking, anti-virus software and anti-spy tools.
As on-line banking fraud gets more sophisticated you need to update your software on a regular basis. Security specialists such as Norton and McAfee normally send you updates automatically so you'll have the latest versions to combat any viruses. You may have to pay for this software, but it does not cost a fortune and is a sound investment if you wish to keep your payment details safe whilst using the Internet.
By all accounts, using the Internet to pay for goods and services is still a very safe practise if you use services such as PayPal that millions of people use every day to complete transactions. Although this is the industry leader in money transfers on the Internet it is not the only company to offer such a service. When you go to a 'checkout' page of a site when paying for something, the page will usually have a logo on it somewhere that shows that a service such as PayPal is used to ensure credibility and security of the transaction.
Banks follow a set of voluntary guidelines called the Banking Code. The code generally says that if you are the innocent victim of fraud then you will be fully refunded for your losses. The only time a bank won't pay out is if it can prove that you acted carelessly with your passwords and security details.
As on-line banking fraud is a relatively new crime, banks are sympathetic to victims and it is very rare for customers not to be refunded. However, critics say that as the number of cases grow, banks may start to think twice about paying out so easily. The problem is, it takes time for your bank to refund you. Moreover, during the delay you will lose interest on your money.
Another issue is the time it takes to sort out the mess and getting your bank account up and running again. This may include penalty fees caused by rejected direct debits and standing orders being refunded.
It is fair to say that people who do not take the necessary precautions are more likely to be caught out eventually by one of these scams. Then all confidence in the Internet as a tool to make your life easier will be lost and rightly so as nobody wants to think they are taking risks with their money. But the fact of the matter is that by taking these steps to safeguard you details, you can remain safe and enjoy the freedom that Internet shopping and banking allows.
For further details on this, please contact your bank. Alternatively, you can click on Get Safe On-line Opens in a new window to access safety information as sponsored by HM Government, HSBC, BT, Microsoft and the Serious Organised Crime Agency among others.