As most of the world focuses on keeping safe during this pandemic, criminals are using our fears and security concerns to steal your money and personal information.

As large companies like EasyJet, Tesco (Clubcard), Boots (Advantage card), etc. have been hacked, it is quite possible that your personal details (Name, Address, Credit & Debit card and Passport) are already available on the dark web (online websites not visible to the usual search engines where all types of illegal activities including selling these details take place).

So practically, what steps can I take to protect myself and family, particularly the elderly who may not be quite tech savvy?

The first tip is to be informed quickly by checking your bank and credit card statements regularly. Many banks provide an SMS service to alert you if your balance goes below a threshold. Also, check the news for major data breaches as previously mentioned and if you have an account with a company that is hacked, take prompt actions like; logging in and changing your password, and doing a search for additional information on any recommendations. 

The second tip which actually also steps zero is, to be alert and always have the question in mind, 'is this safe or suspicious'. For example, you get a call from someone from a well-known company; your Bank, your Electric company, Microsoft Support etc. They will greet you by name and request some 'security checks'. Note - its highly unlikely that these big organisations have the time or resources to call you in person! Usually, you need to spend ages on the phone when you call them right? So if someone calls you or you get an email or other communication which then connects you to someone or a website that asks you for 'security checks' then be very alert and cautious. If in doubt, ask for a number and reference so you can call them. For websites, check that the connection is secure before you provide any information.

The third tip is; be patient and wait or delay. Criminals, including cybercriminals, aim for speed. If you are not sure, do not proceed until you are safe. If someone is 'pressuring you' then become very cautious. If you see an offer that looks amazing, then unless you are protected (e.g. by eBay or amazon guarantee), then most likely this is not genuine. 

If you follow these 3 tips, you will go a long way to stopping most criminals. My final tip is; keep a checklist so you know how to call your bank to stop payments, credit cards, etc.