The lockdown kept down disease, but it hasn’t prevented other nastiness. Online fraud rose by a third in the UK during the pandemic, with the police’s Action Fraud organisation reporting a 33% rise in cases. Over in the US, the Federal Trade Commission says identity theft and fraud reports were up by 45% in 2020.
In Britain, the majority of people targeted were young (under the age of forty), and kids certainly aren’t immune from fraudsters. To keep you and your children safe, we’ve drawn up this new guide to avoiding scammers, and we’ve also included some advice if you do fall victim to fraud.
📦 What to look out for, when you’re buying stuff online
Make sure you recognise the name of the website. We all like to help small businesses, but it’s often a bit safer to go with online retailers you know and recognise, such as Amazon, Ebay or big high street brands. If you want to buy something from a website you’ve never bought anything from before, it’s also a good idea to do a search for them and see if there are any reviews or reports. Google their name, and you might find other people who’ve used them and been scammed. Also watch for sneaky scammers who might be setting up sites that look like familiar retailers, but are actually sneaky misspellings of familiar names, such as arnazon (‘r n’) rather than amazon.
Look out for the special ‘s’ in ‘https’ and/or the padlock symbol If a website’s address has https at the beginning, it means it’s using a special way to communicate, which is a bit more secure. A lot of sites, including Google, have ‘https’ in their URL, and most reputable online retailers will use it, to make sure your shopping is safe. You may also see a padlock symbol just before the web address in the browser. If it isn’t there, think twice about making that purchase.
Regularly update your browser to ensure you always have the latest security features The makers of web browsers such as Chrome, Safari and Firefox regularly update their software, to make sure that it’s safe and secure. Make sure you have the latest version running on your phone or computer, before you buy stuff.
Check your statements regularly to make sure you recognise all vendors and if you don’t recognise any, contact our help team You can see what you’ve spent via the Rooster app. If you think something’s a bit off, we’re always happy to help. You can contact us via the app.
Never give your PIN away anywhere Remember, your PIN is YOUR secret code for ATMs and in shops, not for online shopping. Never give that information away online. Retailers may ask for the long number written on the card, and the CVV. A lot of card providers write that number on the card itself, but Rooster Money adds an additional layer of security, by letting users generate one-off CVV numbers via the app. Find out more about that here.
Have a strong password and change it regularly A lot of scammers crack users’ security thanks to old, or easy-to-guess passwords. You can beat them, when you’re shopping online, by using a stronger password, with different symbols, letters and numbers, and by changing your password regularly.
Always log out of sites when you’re done Simply closing your browser isn’t the same as logging out.
Use the Rooster Money app The Rooster Money app and the Rooster Card come with enhanced security features. Parents can get a purchase notification, to keep a track on shopping, and they can freeze and unfreeze cards, if they get lost, or fall into the wrong hands.
If it all goes wrong, contact us If you think a bad retailer has ripped you off online, and the merchant is not responding, we may be able to help, via a chargeback. You can find out more here.
📱What to watch out for, with text and email fraud
Even when you’re not shopping fraudsters will still try to get you, sometimes via dodgy texts and emails. They might pretend to be a courier company asking for an additional delivery charge, the police warning you about a crime,a streaming service saying they’ve got a problem with your payments, or a crazy online retailer desperate to give away an iPad or loads of Robux. If you get one of these messages, remember to think before you respond.
Does it all seem a bit weird? Just think for a moment: do companies regularly give away great goodies? Do the police really contact kids via texts or email? A little bit of healthy suspicion might save you a lot of money.
Don’t click on the links Even by visiting some dodgy websites, you can compromise your safety. Again, if it looks suspicious, don’t use it, and tell your parents. If you really think a retailer or other business might be getting in touch, you can always check for their contact details online and reach out to them yourself.
Never give your card details via a link in a text Fraudsters will sometimes try to get your financial information via texts. They might pretend to be a courier company asking for an additional delivery charge, or a crazy online retailer
Parents should watch out too In the UK, Fraud Action reports cases of parents being targeted with text messages that appear to be written by their children. In this instance, the fake texts said the child had been in a car accident, suffered a head injury, was contacting their parent via a borrowed mobile phone, to request a top-up code.
If you think it’s a scam, you can report it In the UK and the US you can forward suspicious texts to the authorities on 7726. In the UK, it’s email@example.com for bad emails, and in the US its firstname.lastname@example.org.