According to UK Finance, a collective voice for the UK banking and finance industry representing around 300 firms, fraud is on the rise as fraudsters look to take advantage of people who are spending more time online, as our work and private lives change more to a virtual world, and the cost of living crisis has made people look into saving money with online purchases.
Their most recent report shows that criminals stole £753.9 million through fraud in the first half of 2021, up 30 per cent annually. Phishing and social media attacks are used to steal your financial data and these are a huge threat and growing more widespread every year.
Many of these fraud attacks have resulted from your data being sold on to data brokers without your knowledge or agreement. They are following your online activity and digital footprint to profile you. Your data is then being sold on the dark web to thousands of companies, some of these companies will sell it, others will look to use it to make money from it.
The first step is to be more vigilant about what information you are sharing with companies to avoid future digital harm. Something that I started doing was using a false date of birth where the information request was not necessary, such as a membership site or a mailing list – please don’t try this with banks or finance providers.
Another thing you can do is to clean up your virtual world, where your data is stored. This won’t remove the risk, but if your data appears in fewer places you reduce the opportunities for the criminals.
The first thing you can look at is a site called ‘have I been pwned’ https://haveibeenpwned.com. This site is free to use and anyone can quickly assess if they may have been put at risk due to an online account of theirs having been compromised or “pwned” in a data breach. You simply enter your email address and it will show sites which have previously been compromised and where your email may be at risk, along with other data. This then allows you to ensure your password to these sites is changed immediately.
The second thing you can do is to clean up where your email and data is stored. If you signed up to a mailing list you no longer use, you should ensure your data is deleted from this site in case they incur a data breach, and your personal data is compromised. Another great free site is Rightly https://right.ly. This site will look through your email inbox and create a list of sites that use your email address. It then creates you an automated email that you can send to them which will tell them to delete your information under the GDPR legislation. The site allows you to select the sites you want to send this email to, before it’s sent, so you won’t opt out of your favourite mailing list.
A data breach could cost you thousands of pounds and creating wealth is as much as protecting what you have as well as creating more wealth.
You protect your other assets, so why not protect your most valuable asset, your online identity?