By Ruth Kennedy, contributing on behalf of Barclays Bank

As a business it’s essential to always put your customers’ well-being and satisfaction first, and that includes educating them about fraud prevention and how to keep their money and personal information safe. In the age of the internet there is more need than ever for a focus on fraud prevention, but if you keep consumers informed about on and offline fraud prevention they will be much safer and the risk to both your business and your customers will be greatly reduced.

We’ve split our tips into online and offline fraud prevention, so you can advise your customers appropriately whether your business operates online, in the real world or both.

Online fraud prevention
The first step in staying safe on the internet is to make sure that your online environment is as secure as possible. It’s essential that you are operating with anti-virus software installed and that you keep this renewed and up to date. A firewall is a data protection measure which blocks certain traffic from accessing your computer from a network. Your anti-virus software should have a built in firewall, and your computer will have one too which you can turn on if necessary via the Start Menu on Windows and through Preferences on a Mac.

When you are shopping online you should always check that the website is secure by looking for the security icon (usually in the top right corner of the address bar). It will look like a locked padlock or an unbroken key and it lets you know that your details are secure when you’re making online payments. Once you’ve made a payment make sure to save a copy of the confirmation email so it’s easy for you to cross check your bank statement for potential fraudulent purchases.

Any time you visit a shopping website or access your online banking you should type the website directly into the address bar. Accessing these websites via a search engine can put you at risk of phishing scams where a fake website masquerades as a bank or shopping outlet to try to steal personal information from you. Your anti-virus software should also warn you of potential phishing scams, which is another reason to keep your software up to date.
Finally, it’s vital that you change passwords regularly, use different ones for different logins and always use strong passwords which include a mix of letters (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols.

Offline fraud prevention
Protecting your money and personal details in the real world is also extremely important. When it comes to your credit and debit cards remember that your PIN number should never be shared with anyone – and that includes your bank and the police. As well as keeping all your personal details, PINs and login information private, it’s a good idea to save your bank’s fraud prevention phone number in your mobile contacts so you can easily cancel cards or seek advice in the event that any of your cards are lost or stolen.

Also ensure that if any of your personal details (such as phone number or postal address) change you inform your bank right away to make sure that they can reach you if necessary and that nobody else receives correspondence like bank statements in error. You should also make sure that any important documents like bank statements, insurance policies, driving license, birth/marriage certificates and so on are kept somewhere safe in your home. Ideally you should keep these documents separately to reduce the risk of all of them being lost together.

If you move house, as well as informing your bank, it may be worth signing up for the Royal Mail redirection service for a year or so to make sure that all your post reaches you. It’s easy to miss something when you are updating your address and this is one extra step to keep you secure.

About the author
Ruth Kennedy has contributed this article on behalf of Barclays Bank.