It seems like almost every week we hear new reports of fraudsters hacking into websites to steal customer information as well as cases of theft or loss of laptops and computer disks containing masses of personal data. However, it can be really difficult to know what that means for us as individuals and what we can do to protect ourselves.
The rules for keeping data safe
There are a few simple rules that we can follow to make our data more secure from attack:
Keep Passwords Secure
Try to create passwords that are difficult to guess. Change default passwords from phones when you buy them and avoid writing them down in an obvious form. We all have so many passwords and numbers that they can be impossible to remember, so if you do need to make a note of them, disguise the information, so it only makes sense to you. It can be good practice to change your passwords from time to time although that can add to the difficulty in keeping track of them!
Don’t tell anyone your password. Most banks will refuse to make refunds of stolen money if the password has been disclosed to a third party or written down in an obvious form.
If you use a public computer, remember not to save any passwords for sites that you have visited and at the end of each session, clear your browsing data and the history of the sites that you have visited.
Keep Your Equipment Safe
We wouldn’t dream of leaving our wallet or car keys unattended and we need to take the same amount of care with our phones, laptops and other hardware. This can be a problem because they are built to be lightweight and portable, so can be easy to put down and forget.
Install passcodes on phones and computers and avoid carrying around large amounts of personal data on them; it is now easy to store data in the cloud with strong levels of security which you can access wirelessly when you need it without it remaining on your devices.
Install tracking and disabling software on your portable equipment, so if you do become aware that you’ve lost your phone or your tablet, you can see where it is and if necessary, lock it or even wipe it clean remotely.
Be Careful of the Sites that you Visit!
If you receive links from strangers or to sites that you don’t know, think carefully before you open them. If the link looks as if it has come from someone you ought to trust, your bank for example, it might be best to find the website yourself through a search engine and access it through the company’s official home page.
If you are worried about whether an e-mail really does come from your bank, just call them and explain your concern. Use a contact number from their website and you can also usually find your bank’s phone number on the back of your debit or credit card.
It is also a good idea to avoid visiting “dodgy” sites where you are confronted by loads of pop-ups and new windows opening up.
Securely Back-up Your Data
It’s not only external attacks that can cause loss of data. It is perfectly possible to delete files, documents and data without realising that you are doing so. Therefore make the habit of running a back-up from time to time that you store separately from your computer. That means that if disaster strikes, you will be able to recover what you have accidentally lost.
Protect Yourself From Attack
Always install and maintain up to date anti-virus and anti-intrusion software on your computers. Many banks make this a condition of using on-line banking and even offer free software. In the event of an attack that takes money from your account, some banks will make it a condition of refunding the money that up to date software was running.
What Does MYJAR do to Keep my Data Safe?
We keep your data safe by employing industry standard data security and encryption methods. We limit the amount of financial data (bank account and card information) when undertaking transactions so it would not be possible, even if the information were intercepted, for it to be used to access your bank account. We meet the industry standard for storage of bank data as set out in the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards which cover storage, transmission and retention of bank and card information.
What Should I do if I Think I Have Been the Victim of Identity Theft?
Identity theft covers not only the illegal use of computer data but even tricking people into revealing personal information that enables a fraudster to get access to you money. As soon as you become suspicious that you might have become a victim, contact your bank and they will tell you what you need to do.
If you have a loan, or have had loans with us in the past, you can log on to your account at www.myjar.com or call us to check the status of your account. You will also need to report the case to the Police and/or Action Fraud and change any on-line and computer passwords you use. You should also check immediately to see whether anyone might have been applying for credit in your name by searching at a credit reference agency.
Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk