Stealing your personal details to gain access to your well-earned money is a crime that has gained sophistication rapidly in recent times helped along with the advent of online activity.

Just when we were getting wise to dumpster diving, shoulder surfing and skimming, we are now faced with a new onslaught, exclusive to the internet.

The internet is fast becoming a virtual high street, where we do our banking, pay our utility bills, shop for groceries and other goods and re-negotiate contracts. This is an ideal breeding ground for cyber highwaymen, who are developing methods all the time to carry out their dastardly deeds.

Insecure Websites

Shopping online is what we are doing more and more of these days, increasing the chances of a cyber crook intercepting your personal information. Make sure that the website you use is secure, checking that the URL starts with https. Most websites will have a padlock in the far-left corner of the URL box, so keep an eye out for it. If you are warned that you are about to access a website that is not secure, pay heed to this and rather opt for one that you know is going to be safe.

Email scams

Otherwise known as phishing this scam is one in which a cybercriminal will pretend to representation an existing organisation or company. The email will prompt you to enter personal information such as your bank account, credit card or debit card details, your date of birth, NI number and physical address. Once they have this information in their possession it will not be long before you will be alerted to the fact that your personal data has been compromised.

Beware of any email that requests too much data and don’t click on links or open attachments that come from a suspicious source. For a high level of protection from phishing reputable antivirus software packages are well worth investing in.

Hacking

Tech-savvy cybercriminals can hack into a wide range of computer systems from banks to government organisations. As soon as a bank or an organisation that you deal with has a security breach you will be notified immediately. Check that this information comes from a reliable source and if you feel your data has been compromised put a block on your account.

This illegal activity is not just aimed at the big guys these days though, as more and more of us find ourselves falling victim to home-hub hackers. Through fake pop up alerts, for example, hackers can gain access to your computer and the more sophisticated will install a Trojan Horse, which will work in the background gathering up all your personal data and delivering it to the cybercrime ring.

Pretexting

This is one of the sneakiest ways cyber thieves can use to steal your identity in that it is multi-layered in its approach. Firstly, they are able to retrieve enough information about you to call your bank pretending to be you. This way they can complete the crime by transferring your money from your account to theirs. Lately, however, banks have become wise to this and have upped the level of security questions in their telephonic communications with their account holders.