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How can we stay safe and avoid robbery, internet fraud, identity theft...?
Use Cash Machines Safely
When choosing a cash machine, put your personal safety first: if someone nearby makes you uncomfortable, find another ATM. Look for anything unusual about the machine, especially around the card entry slot, and if you have doubts, don't use it - but please report it to the ATM provider. If someone's crowding you, cancel the transaction and move on. Don't accept help from strangers and don't allow yourself to be distracted for a second.
Stand close to the ATM, shielding the keypad as much as possible so that people can't read your PIN number entry - try covering all the buttons lightly with your fingers to make it harder for them. If the ATM won't give your card back, tell the bank or building society as soon as possible. Don't forget to take away the cash, the card and the receipt, if requested, and store them safely in your pockets before moving away - don't be rushed just because there's a queue behind you.
Finally, hang on to any receipts - never drop them at the cashpoint - and shred it later, definitely any that contain all or part of your card number. We suggest keeping them to check against your bank statements, then shred them all straight after using a cross-shredder.
Buying goods on the Internet is at least as risky as shopping from home via any other method. The trouble is that it is so easy for a web-skilled fraudster to set-up what looks like a bona-fide web site, and it is possible that your details are saved electronically, or observed at the time of purchase, enabling a criminal to take advantage of the information. Use only trusted sites. If you have any doubts, use a search engine to identify and compare the real site. Check that no-one else can see what you see on the screen. Find out if the card you use has insurance cover against fraud for the purchase you intend making.
Internet banking use is increasing every year to such an extent that it may become the norm in a two or three years. Banks are certainly keen that their new accounts get tied in to mandatory internet servicing because it saves them money but it could make things easier for the account holder too. Moving money from current account to savings at the click of a mouse is very efficient. Seeing your current account balance on your computer screen from home is a great way to keep tabs on it's status. However, the insecurity of internet banking is not something that banks trumpet. When there is a breach, especially to an individual account holder, you will not hear about it. You will get more incentives to use the service but you won't get the true picture of how an individual's account was cleared out. We don't think Internet banking is safe enough at the moment.
Breach at Morgan Stanley Web Site
(Wednesday 10th November 2004 news story)
Morgan Stanley, the credit card company with more than 1 million customers, has plugged an online security loophole that could have allowed people to access account holders' details and to move their money. Yesterday, it emerged that the Morgan Stanley website had allowed users to access their credit card information after entering just the first digit of their credit card number.
The incident comes just a few days after Cahoot closed down its website for 10 hours following a tip-off that users could view other customers' private details. Cyber crime experts said banks and other companies must take more responsibility for providing their online customers with security or run the risk that people will steer clear of these services.
At the Surgery, many Patients are unaware of how insecure using the Internet can be. Hacking can be as complex as viewing data using remotely installed bugging software, or as simple as looking at the screen over the user's shoulder. Either way, the Internet is not secure. Not even when it is used for surfing for the most inocuous item, let alone for banking or credit card account usage. No Doctor here at the Surgery has an Internet accessible savings or banking account, because we know how "accessible" those accounts would be.
Watch out for a brand new page outlining a few steps you can take and good habits you should have with regard to your money and security, here at Money Surgery.
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