POLICE are urging people to be smart as part of an initiative to reduce the number of people being conned by fraudsters.
Warwickshire Police are marking National Scam Awareness Month by raising awareness of identity crime.
They say obtaining someone’s identity – through personal details – makes it easier to commit crimes.
Fraudsters can take over a person’s existing bank accounts, open new ones, obtain credit cards, loans and mobile phone contracts, order goods and get genuine documents in that person’s name.
According to the latest figures, identity fraud costs victims around £5.4billion nationally each year.
And police are encouraging people to be on their guard by being smart and following a few simple steps to reduce their chances of falling victim.
S – Shred documents containing personal details before throwing them away.
M – Make sure passwords are nonsensical. Use letters, numbers and symbols.
A – Always use legitimate and up-to-date antivirus software.
R – Remain vigilant. Think before you input or email your personal details.
T – Think Phishing. Could that email be from a fraudster trying to get hold of your personal details?
Det Ch Insp Tim Bower said: “Cyber space provides numerous opportunities for fraudsters to get their hands on the personal data of unsuspecting people, often without them even realising.
“The good news is that there are simple steps that everyone can take to help protect themselves.
“We want people to be as well versed in looking after themselves in the virtual world as they are at keeping their belongings safe in the real world. Online cyber security should be as automatic as locking up homes and vehicles, for example.”
July’s awareness drive is being rolled out under the Warwickshire and West Mercia alliance’s #BeCyberSmart campaign, which focuses on phishing, malware, passwords, antivirus and the importance of shredding documents containing personal details.
Visit www.warwickshire.police.uk/becybersmart, www.getsafeonline.org or www.cyberstreetwise.com for further advice.
Anyone who has been a victim of fraud can report it online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 20 40.