September 25, 2008

A Healthy Degree of Mistrust


BETWEEN 1999 and 2003, the Government saw cases of ID fraud and impersonation surge from 20,000 to 101,000.

With the advent of internet shopping, communication, and banking, consumers are arguably more vulnerable to fraud than before.

So how can consumers and businesses protect themselves from the UK's fastest growing type of fraud?

Mike Kilroe, a senior lecturer in sociology and criminology at Liverpool Hope University, says vigilance is key.

He advised Daily Post readers: "People need to be careful about sharing their details. There are so many ways we can share our details unknowingly, especially with the advent of the internet."

Mr Kilroe warned criminals could use the "scantest amount of information" to commit fraud.

He added: "It's a complicated crime in general. It's got more complicated with the advance of the internet as that's allowed people to get creative."

Merseyside Police warn of a litany of ways fraudsters operate online, and they say the first some victims know about it is when a bailiff appears on their doorstep.

Paul Fitzgibbons is computer PERSONAL DATA Special investigation operations manager at Edge Lanebased Connect Internet Solutions.

Connect have advised Knowsley, Liverpool and Wirral councils, as well as the Government, on the internet.

He said: "I'd advise clients to have a firewall, which restricts the traffic which goes to the machine. Also, make sure you have up- to-date antivirus software."

He said only to give out personal details to websites over a secure, encrypted connection. The site's web address should begin HTTPs - instead of just HTTP - and a small padlock icon appears at the bottom of the screen on some browsers.

Mr Fitzgibbons added: "If you're not running a firewall, then you risk the vulnerabilities of your PC being exposed so people could potentially hack into your machine."

Microsoft's Windows operating system comes equipped with a firewall, but users need to enable it, and choose which programmes and traffic they will allow through.

But home users can invest in antivirus software that comes with a firewall for around pounds 60.

There is also a risk of being snooped on when logging on to public wi-fi services.

"Don't use public access wireless for financial transactions. Anyone can set themselves up as an access point," he added.

There's also no substitute for common sense and vigilance. Mr Fitzgibbons said web users should be wary of so-called "phishing" emails of websites that request personal details - "especially anything that's to do with financial information "Approaching the internet with a bit of suspicion is a good start. Don't automatically trust anyone."

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Old-fashioned cons still snaring victims

OLDFASHIONED methods of conning consumers out of money are still ongoing.

The telephone credit card scam involves a fake operator from VISA calling to "verify" an obscure payment allegedly made abroad.

The operator says to "process a refund" he will need the cardholder's address, card number and security code.

Police say genuine card companies never ask for details over the phone, and card holders should be on their guard whenever they are asked for personal information.

Payments over the phone in public should also be avoided.

IF YOU'VE missed any of the articles so far in our Personal Data special investigation, you can find them on our website: Just how many CCTV cameras are watching you every day? Find out at http:// Almost one in 10 people on Merseyside has their genetic profile stored on the national DNA database 3h3boA Councils on Merseyside are profiting by selling residents' personal details

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