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Money. Save it. Spend it. Understand it.

Guide to sharks and scams

Protect yourself from financial predators

You'll be spending your money in a variety of places - supermarkets, clothes shops, bars, cafés, the corner shop and on games and music.

As you'll quite possibly be using your bank details in these places, it's important to understand how to keep your details secure - especially if you buy online.

Online fraud

This comes in many forms - identity theft, phishing, page jacking, advance fee scams, bad cheque scams, fake money orders, wire transfer fraud.

One of the most common problems online is identity theft. We all keep personal information on our computers and unfortunately, if we're not careful, these can be accessed illegally to steal our identity to make fraudulent purchases.

Graphic of a phishing scam
  • Online security

    Whether you’re new to using the Internet or a seasoned surfer, it’s worth putting these simple solutions in place to keep you and your personal information safe online.

    • Use anti-virus software. Running anti-virus software can help you to stop viruses, Trojans and many other nasty 'bugs' from infecting your computer. You can use this free diagnostic check to help find out if your device is infected. Antivirus isn’t just for computers, so make sure your other devices are protected by downloading appropriate software.
    • Use a firewall. Once set up, it will prevent potential ‘intruders’ from accessing your computer. Many anti-virus vendors include a firewall as part of their security products. It’s important to configure your firewall appropriately to ensure it is providing an effective barrier between your computer and the internet.
    • Prevent spyware. Spyware is a rather nasty form of online snooping. You can help prevent spyware from getting onto your computer by using up to date anti-spyware software and surfing with caution.
    • Secure your wireless connection. Without a secure wireless network, anyone can use your connection. Securing your wireless connection can be as simple as setting up a password. Your internet service provider should provide instructions on how to do this.
    • Stay up to date. Keeping your anti-virus software, browsers and firewall up to date will make life much more difficult for criminals wanting to steal your data.

    Security checklist

    To make sure you stay safe there are a number of steps you can take to protect your identity and passwords.

    1. Limit the information you make public on social networking sites
      Identity thieves gather small pieces of information published online to build a profile of their victim. If you allow people to see your date of birth, mobile phone number, address and family information they may be able to use this to steal your identity.
    2. Be aware of email scams
      Be on your guard if you receive emails asking for your personal information or online banking sign in details, especially if they threaten to suspend or limit access to your account. We will never send emails asking you to provide personal information or to confirm your online security details.
    3. Check you’re on a secure website
      Look for the padlock. Secure websites display a padlock symbol usually at the top or bottom of the browser window. If you’re uncertain whether or not the site is secure, double click on the padlock to check its Security Certificate. You should also look for and read their Licence Agreements and Privacy Statements. Websites also use ‘https’ to secure the connection between you and them.

    How safe is this site?

    All our sites go through rigorous checks and where appropriate use certificates to ensure your data is secure.

  • Never give anyone your passwords, and always make your passwords difficult to guess. That means avoiding birthdates and names of your favourite things. Build in numbers and capital letters to make it even more difficult.

  • All bills, receipts and letters contain personal information that could be used by fraudsters to steal your identity. So keep your paperwork safe, don’t just bin it.

    If you’re living in shared accommodation you can be at risk even without making a transaction. A common way to have your identity ‘stolen’ is by having your mail intercepted. Having all your accounting online and not having paper statements helps. Also try and make sure your post goes to a secure address and collect it on time.

  • Always check the cash machine hasn’t been tampered with before you use it. Make sure you hide your PIN as you enter it. And never give your PIN to anyone else.

  • You may receive emails seeming to come from banks or other companies you know asking for personal details or account numbers to update their files.

    They’re crooks who are ‘phishing’ and will use the information illegally.

    Don’t open emails you’re unsure about. Mark them as spam. Or, if you do open one, don’t fall for it. Check with the organisation sending the email, but before you do find a contact number from somewhere other than the email you have received.

    Others will send you links that can infect your computer with viruses if you open them. Some will ‘page jack’ and suddenly take you to a page you haven’t wanted – many offering web security systems which are anything but.

    Make sure you have a good security system installed on your computer and that it is up to date.

  • Their activities are illegal and very dangerous. They are not regulated, can charge what they like, change their terms on a whim, and they become very threatening if you fail to pay on time.

Key point

Keep your details to yourself and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The different ways to borrow

If you need to borrow, borrow wisely.

The information in this guide is not intended to be a recommendation or advice.

Halifax products and services are offered subject to status. Lending decisions and any amount we lend is based on your personal circumstances, you need to be aged 18 or over to apply. Overdrafts are repayable on demand.

Halifax is a division of Bank of Scotland plc. Registered in Scotland No. SC327000. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Bank of Scotland plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 169628.