No sharing of Personal Details!

22/04/2016 12:15

Many  consumers these days are becoming tech-savvy using  internet for  banking, shopping, paying bills and purchasing airline tickets, etc. Life has become easy but on the flip-side, we are getting exposed to technologically-driven crimes.

Some consumers have been targeted by foreign hackers who obtained bank account details from people via emails, social networks, text messages or phone calls. The Fiji Police Force is on record urging the Fijian consumers to be cautious when using personal details in public. It must be noted that credit card holders have lost significant amounts of money after exposing their card details in the past.

Identity-theft is real. Identity theft and identity fraud refers to a crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. Some imposters are using internet forums to buy and sell data.

Last year, Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit had disclosed that one of the financial institutions through their quick actions was able to save a business entity from remitting US$30,000 ($F61,715) to a fraudster's bank account. Some local businesses had lost about $500,000 to international cybercriminals using email spoofing techniques.

Imagine the extent of data disclosure on the net. There are so many instances where we give out our personal details such as our name, date of birth, residental address, phone/mobile number, family detail, work address and other common information about ourselves on social media sites. It can be a casual conversation on facebook where we talk about our favourite colour, our pet’s name, favouite code-words or nicknames. However, cyber-criminals can use these information to heck into accounts.

Little do we realize that someone out there is preying on our personal information. They use the information to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards and commit fraud in other people's names.

Some of you may have received emails, facebook requests or even postal mails that look like they are from a bank. These emails normally ask for your bank details or your PIN number. There may also be some overseas corporate body, which is offering you a job and they require your personal details. Much bigger – is a mail saying you are a million-dollar winner in some lottery.

The best option is: DO NOT DISCLOSE YOUR PERSONAL DETAILS!

This also applies to people sharing information with friends, colleagues or family during conversations on phone, via text messages or face-to-face.  One should  keep all their bank account details in a safe place for these are private information. These details can include passbook, emails, username, password, PIN numbers, cheque leaf and correspondences with banks. Consumers must remember that this information is not to be shared with anyone.

ID theft has no age barriers and  boundaries. Unfortunately, this kind of financial abuses are more prevalent among the senior citizens.There are cases, when elderly parents or grandparents may have sought help of strangers to withdraw money from ATMs, as they do not know how to use ATMs. What happens at this point is that they end up disclosing  their pin numbers to the very people they do not know. Some elderly are also seen requesting strangers who line up in banks to fill in their deposit or withdrawal slips as they are all by themselves and don’t know how to write. Again, this is where they disclose their bank account details to strangers.

Consumers are advised to limit the amount of personal information they give away on social networking sites. Never share passwords or PINs (personal identification numbers) with others. Do not write them down. Use strong passwords and PINs. Never use your date of birth or your child's name. Include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and punctuation marks. Aim for a minimum of 10 characters in a password. Do not use the same password or PIN for more than one account and shred all your financial documents before you throw them away.

Remember, consumers must take precautions if they recieve any email/text message/phone call with urgent requests for personal financial information.