Belfast Telegraph

As restrictions lift, is it time to drop our guard?

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Whilst government imposed restrictions have been lifted and there is some indication that life is beginning to resemble pre-Covid-19 times, it does not mean that the associated Covid-19 fraud risk has gone away.

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Fraudsters have spent the last two years capitalising on the Covid-19 situation and using it to their advantage, adapting their schemes to be country specific and more convincing as the pandemic progressed. Specific fraud schemes, and associated advice, have been publicised many times during this period such as fake Covid-19 tests, working from home scam opportunities, and fraudulent support claims. Whilst it isn’t clear the extent the pandemic will have in the years to come, it is clear that it has impacted the way most of us work and live indefinitely. As such, a number of these scams remain relevant and continue to provide an income stream for fraudsters. This, coupled with new emerging fraud risks, means it is not the time to drop our guard when it comes to fraud.

The fundamentals in tackling Covid-19 fraud are not dissimilar to the steps you should be taking in both your professional and private lives to safeguard your information – and, as ever, vigilance is key!

In a world where we increasingly rely on technology to communicate and work, it is important that you can spot suspicious emails, calls, and texts. Take the time to satisfy yourself as to the credibility of the source; are they who they say they are? Are they asking for personal information? Is there a consequence to not meeting their request? A genuine contact won’t mind if you ask for further clarification of identification, and often this extra step can protect you from a fraudster accessing your information for financial gain.

Another simple, but often overlooked, safeguard is having a strong password that differs across accounts. In a world where financial transactions, branchless banks, and remote working are the norms, it is important passwords protecting your data are strong and cannot easily be guessed either by a fraudster or a machine, as often the case. On average it takes a fraudster only approximately two seconds to crack an 11-character password that used only numbers. The more diverse characters used in a password the harder it is to crack.

Whilst the above appear relatively simple, and are by no means new measures, they will undoubtedly help to protect you, your workplace, and your family from prevailing and emerging fraud risks that have only enhanced through the pandemic.