Crime figures just issued by the Office for National Statistics show that banking and credit fraud has risen by 13% in the year ending June 2016.
John Marsden, head of ID and fraud at Equifax, commented: “Companies have stepped up their fraud protection with multiple layered fraud defences, but this often moves criminal activity to those channels that are less well protected. Fraud is a surprisingly professional industry. The number of cases continues to rise as criminals find new ways to access information, often fuelled by a deep understanding of their target’s identity. Underlying this is the sharing of knowledge and consumers’ personal information across marketplaces on The Dark Web.”
Marsden went on to state: “Consumers must take steps to protect themselves from falling prey to fraudulent behaviour. People are without doubt confused about where to store and share confidential information like their bank account number, sort code and even their date of birth. As consumers seek the convenience and speed offered by digital correspondence, so they potentially position themselves in front of fraudsters who will steal this information to gain access to accounts and financially exploit individuals.”
According to Marsden, data shared on The Dark Web cannot be treated as a one-time event. The data never truly vanishes and can spread globally in a short amount of time, enabling criminals to fraudulently takeover accounts and identities.
“To reduce the risks and damage associated with fraudulent activity,” observed Marsden, “more needs to be done to educate the public and give them a stronger chance of protecting themselves. The advice is very clear: remain vigilant and only share your details when you’re sure the channel is secure.”
It’s worth bearing in mind the following guidelines when handling personal information:
- Do not do your online banking in public places and definitely do not use public Wi-Fi (criminals can set up bogus public Wi-Fi ‘hotspots’ to access devices and information)
- Never respond to unprompted banking messages unless you are absolutely certain the request is genuine (ie when you have spoken with your bank to confirm)
- Be very aware of domain names online and the security signs visible in a browser. Make sure you log on to a banking website at a web address you know and not via a link
- Never provide any banking details to a third party you don’t know or are unsure about (in part or as a whole)
- Avoid unnecessarily sharing details such as your name, address and date of birth