Staying safe online can feel like a constant battle, especially with the increasingly sophisticated techniques that scammers are using to catch us out. And it’s not just online either – fraudsters can use dodgy calls and texts to try and steal our information.
But what happens if you accidentally fall for one of these scams? Is it time to panic?
Don’t worry – the most important thing is that you realised this early. You should now make sure you protect yourself – find out what you need to do after you’ve fallen for a scam.
What information did you give?
First off, you need to identify what details the scammers have actually got hold of. Did you give out your email address, your phone number or your address? If you did, fraudsters might sell on your details – and you could see more scams coming through.
This means you might start getting more unsolicited calls, texts or letters. You can block numbers from texting or calling you either through your phone or your network. And you should also sign up with the Mail Preference Service to prevent marketing letters. Just be aware that scams might still find their way through to you – so stay alert.
But if you’ve given out more sensitive information – your email or social media password or even your bank details – you need to take action. Get in touch with your bank immediately if you think your account information might not be safe. They’ll be able to tell you what the best thing to do next is.
If you think a scammer might have the password to one of your online logins, make sure you reset this and get a new password. And if you use the same password for other sites, reset this too – this is why using the same password for multiple accounts could cost you.
You should also report any cybercrime to Action Fraud. They can give you a police crime reference number in case you need this going forwards.
How to protect yourself
You shouldn’t feel embarrassed about falling for a fraudster’s tricks – even tech-savvy people can fall for scams. Here’s what you should do going forwards to make sure you stay safe.
• Install the latest version of a free antivirus program onto your smartphone. This means that even if you click on a phishing link, it should stop any malware installing itself onto your phone. Sophos, AVG, and Avast are all free options.
• Check your phone bill regularly if you think that a scammer might have compromised your security. This will help you keep an eye out for any suspicious activity, like if you’re paying to receive expensive texts.
• Make sure you check your credit reports with the three credit reference agencies – you can use Noddle, ClearScore and Experian’s CreditMatcher to get these for free. You can use these to see if anyone takes out any credit in your name – and this means you can stop it faster.