Protecting your finances – top tips to avoid being scammed

protecting yourr moneyAccording to a recent report from insurance specialists Aviva, around two thirds of people over 45 years of age are concerned about being scammed online.

They are right to be worried – scammers, hackers, fraudsters and data thieves are a real threat, both online and in the real world. It’s important that you take the proper precautions to protect your valuable financial information and personal data.

Ensure that you don’t become a victim of financial scammers by following these top security tips:

Passwords and verification

 Create strong, unique passwords for all your online accounts – this is especially important for ones like your email and online banking accounts.

The longer the password, the stronger it is. Avoid using the same passwords for multiple sites. That way, if a criminal gets hold of one password, they won’t have access to all your accounts.

Wherever possible, enable 2-step verification to add an extra layer of security. This will prevent people from accessing your accounts even if they have your login details.

 Don’t share your information

 Financial institutions will never ask for your passwords or user id via email – you shouldn’t ever have to provide this information unless logging on to your online banking account.

If someone emails you or calls you up claiming to be from your bank asking for financial or personal information – don’t give them it without properly verifying who they are.

You can always put the phone down and ring the bank on their approved number to check if a request is legitimate.

If in doubt – don’t open it

 Malware, spyware, viruses and ransomware are a real threat to your financial security – they can give cybercriminals the ability to steal your financial data and access your personal accounts.

To avoid these, never open suspicious or unknown emails or text messages, don’t click on links or open attachments within them, and don’t click on pop-up messages when online.

Be software savvy

 Keeping your computer software, operating system and anti-virus protection up to date is essential.

As time goes on and technology progresses, criminals discover and create security flaws in older software – enabling them to break in and steal your personal data.

Updates contain security upgrades, which prevent these criminals from exploiting known loopholes. You’ll also want to enable your computer firewall as an added layer of protection.

Don’t get held to ransom

One of the most popular forms of online scam at the moment is ransomware. This is when a scammer installs a piece of malware (malicious software) on your computer. Once installed, the malware locks your computer – preventing you from accessing your files, and demanding a ransom to be paid.

Fail to pay up within the deadline, and the ransomware will delete all of the files on your computer! To avoid this scam, never click on links within emails unless you’re 100% sure that they’re safe.

Know who you can trust

 The financial services sector is highly regulated, but there are scammers out there posing as financial advisers. To avoid being caught out by cowboys or scammers, only take advice from FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) regulated advisers.

You can check whether an adviser is registered by searching the Financial Services Register.

Use your freedom wisely!

 Following changes in the pension rules in April 2015, there’s more freedom and flexibility to spend, invest and save pension monies than ever before.

Whilst this brings real opportunities, it has also created a new market for scammers looking to take advantage of retirees. Before making any decisions or taking advice from any company, make sure you do a thorough background check to avoid being scammed out of your hard earned money.

Be aware of common scams

 Don’t be fooled – criminals are always looking for new ways to trick you into handing over money, personal information or valuable data.

Check out this list of the top online scams, and keep up to date with the latest news surrounding cyber crime to avoid becoming a victim.

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Stay safe with Sterling

 At Sterling, we specialise in providing high quality, cost-effective financial solutions for you, your family and your business. Our advisers are there to provide you with honest advice on the best ways to achieve your financial goals.

For support you can trust and friendly advice, call our team today on 01482 863127, email webenquiries@sterling-partnership.co.uk, or request a callback.