Wednesday, 28 January marked the 9th European Data Protection Day.
As Vice-President Andrus Ansip and Commissioner Věra Jourová put it ‘It is a day to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of protecting personal data, a fundamental right for everyone in the EU.’
A range of EU laws exist to protect your data but protecting your data and yourselves from online crime is also in your own hands.
Many websites and organisations provide advice on how best to do this. Below we provide a few tips suggested by the UK police anti-fraud office as well as links to some useful sights.
If you have been a victim of data theft or other forms of online crime, support is available to you. Victim Support Europe’s members provide support to all victims of crime in 25 European countries. If you need assistance, their contact details are found here: Victim Support Contact details.
HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK OF FRAUD
Although fraud comes in many forms, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself from the crime.
- Do not give any personal information (name, address, bank details, email or phone number) to organisations or people before verifying their credentials.
- Many frauds start with a phishing email. Remember that banks and financial institutions will not send you an email asking you to click on a link and confirm your bank details. Do not trust such emails, even if they look genuine. You can always call your bank using the phone number on a genuine piece of correspondence, website (typed directly into the address bar) or the phone book to check if you’re not sure.
- Destroy and preferably shred receipts with your card details on and post with your name and address on. Identity fraudsters don’t need much information in order to be able to clone your identity.
- Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall installed. Ensure your browser is set to the highest level of security notification and monitoring to prevent malware issues and computer crimes.
- Sign-up to Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code [or other secure payment system for your country] whenever you are given the option while shopping online. This involves you registering a password with your card company and adds an additional layer of security to online transactions with signed-up retailers.
- If you receive bills, invoices or receipts for things you haven’t bought, or financial institutions you don’t normally deal with contact you about outstanding debts, take action. Your identity may have been stolen.
- You should regularly get a copy of your credit file and check it for entries you don’t recognise.
- Be extremely wary of post, phone calls or emails offering you business deals out of the blue. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always question it.
- If you have been a victim of fraud, be aware of fraud recovery fraud. This is when fraudsters pretend to be a lawyer or a law enforcement officer and tell you they can help you recover the money you’ve already lost.
[Advice provided on the Action Fraud website which is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and internet crime: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/].
For further information about online crime and how to protect yourself, a range of other websites exist including: