Using The Internet

The internet has given criminals the perfect opportunity to commit super–highway robbery, so you need to protect yourself if you are using the internet or email for financial transactions.

1. Check financial websites you intend to use carefully. Make sure that the website address looks correct. It should not consist of only numbers if it is a valid website.

2. Type in the web address yourself rather than clicking a link. This should help you avoid being diverted to sites that are convincing copies of legitimate ones.

3. Don’t be swayed into buying a product because the website looks professional.

4. Research before you sign up. There is no reason to commit yourself immediately.

5. Always read small print carefully. Whether it is on a website, in an email or on paper.

6. Never give out your bank details, credit card details or personal information to someone you do not know or have not checked out. Emails asking for this information are known as phishing emails. Bona fide financial institutions will not contact you this way.

7. Do not believe everything you read on bulletin boards or forums. Anyone could be signing onto them, including crooks.

8. If you want to use an account aggregation site, which enables you to see all of your financial details through one portal - make sure that you check out the provider before you sign up.

9. Always print out or save information. You may not always get a paper copy sent to you. For example, print off terms and conditions – you may find they have changed if you have to go back to the website later on.

10. Before you submit forms online, check that all options are correctly filled in. Drop–down menus and ‘radio buttons’ may have default options already selected which you might need to change. If possible, print out forms you have filled in to keep for your own records - you may need them if you have to complain or make a claim in the future.

For tips on how to stay safe online, visit the UK banking industry's Bank Safe Online website at http://www.banksafeonline.org.uk/

Security through technology
When you buy something online or input personal information, make sure that your details will be held securely. You can first ask the firm if a transaction will be encrypted, or look to the bottom of your screen to see if there is a closed padlock, or other security symbol, depicted on your screen.

You should use security software to protect your computer from viruses and hackers, but this must be kept up-to-date.

You can also help yourself by deleting spam emails from people you have not heard of before opening them, especially if they have attachments as they could carry electronic viruses that could crash, infect or paralyse your computer.

To reduce the amount of spam email you get, talk to the company that provides your email service and see if they can help you with built-in protection.

Dealing in shares

Bulletin boards and chat rooms
Bulletin boards and chat rooms can be fun and informative, but do not rely exclusively on the information you see on these sites. If you intend to buy shares:

1. Do your own research – look on the company's website, get hold of their annual report and read the financial press.

2. Be aware that a single person can easily create the illusion of widespread interest by posting a series of messages under various aliases.

3. Be suspicious of any invitation which claims to share so–called privileged information and urges you to act quickly to avoid missing out.

4. There is a fine line in share dealing between legitimate and illegitimate information - seek professional independent financial advice if you are not sure. Be aware that if you do act on information which later turns out to sit on the wrong side of this line, you could be committing a form of market abuse and end up being prosecuted in a court of law.

Fraudsters can only influence share prices if people actually respond to their tipping.

Thinking of becoming a day trader?
You may have heard or read about day trading. Many people in the United States have given up their jobs in order to become day traders. Day trading has also become increasingly common in the UK.

Day trading involves buying and selling shares on the same day with the aim of making a profit. Day traders rarely hold overnight positions.

Do not rush to join the ranks of day traders unless you fully understand the risks involved. You could seriously damage your wealth.

Monitoring your portfolio online and using an online broker to place and execute orders is very different from the approach of a day trader. Day trading is a stressful, full–time job. It is always high risk.

Remember:
  • day trading is rarely a quick or easy way to make money;

  • do not trade what you cannot afford to lose; and

  • don't rush in without careful thought and preparation. Read and research as much as you can, check out relevant websites, bulletin boards and chat rooms. But don't believe all you see and hear, not all of the information you access will necessarily be reliable.

 

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