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We take your online security seriously.

Expert tips on how to keep safe online PLUS scams to watch out for.

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We take your online security seriously.

Expert tips on how to keep safe online PLUS scams to watch out for.

Help us to help you. Your online security matters to us.

At Budget Direct Insurance Singapore we take your online security very seriously.

Here we give you the low-down about some of the issues we face in Singapore and how best we can protect ourselves online.

Identity theft and fraud

Identity theft occurs when a thief accesses your personal information in order to impersonate you (in person or online), mainly to open accounts in your name. They might even use your details to take control of your existing accounts.

Identity fraud is a little different: instead of stealing your identity, the thief uses your details to create a fictitious person in order to defraud merchants.

Thieves only need to collect a few pieces of information before they have enough to steal your identity. They’re after details like your full name (especially as it appears on your credit card), date and place of birth, email address, physical address (including previous residences), passport or driver’s license numbers, credit card details (expiration date, PIN, card number and security code), where you do your banking, phone number, employment history, club memberships and even your hobbies. 

Around a third of identity theft victims don’t even realise anything has happened until they receive an official notification or query.

Steps you can take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft:

  • Keep your smartphone, tablet and other portable devices safe – they may have as much personal information in them as your purse or wallet.
  • Check your bank statements regularly for unusual activity.
  • Unless you know and trust the sender, never open links or attachments in an email. Type a known address into your browser instead. Clicking on a link may lead you to a bogus lookalike site designed to extract personal details.
  • Cut down on the personal information you share on social media sites – these are a favourite hunting ground for identity thieves.
  • Improve your passwords, and don’t use the same password for everything.
  • Check your credit history regularly.
  • Don’t do any online banking or make payments on public computers – use your PC at home instead.
  • Only download apps from reputable sources. Viruses are easily transmitted to your devices through dodgy downloading sites.
  • Change your browser settings to disable pop-ups. Pop-ups are commonly used by criminals to install spying or key-stroke detection programs onto your computer to access banking details, passwords and other information.
  • Install quality, up-to-date anti-virus software on your PC and devices. 

If you believe you have become a victim of identity theft, notify the Singapore police immediately as well as any financial institutions or businesses that might be affected.

For more information go to: www.police.gov.sg/Advisories/Crime

How secure are your passwords?

Passwords should be a random collection of letters (in both upper and lower case), numbers and symbols. Avoid choices that are easy to guess (like 123456 or the word ‘password’), and change your passwords regularly.

A longer password is more secure than a short one.

Don’t use the same password for everything – this makes it much too easy for criminals.

Ideally, you should never write passwords down. If keeping track of all your passwords becomes too much, there are a number of password management systems including apps (some free, some not) that can assist you. 

Safety on social media

If you’re too generous with personal details, you can become a victim of identity theft, financial fraud or burglary. Providing too much personal information can even expose you to physical danger.

Protecting your PIN numbers, passwords, credit card details and banking information is priority number one. And even though it’s common to share seemingly harmless information like your birthplace or birth date on social media, this information can be used in identity theft.

Most social media sites give you a wide range of privacy settings, so take advantage of these to protect yourself. Make sensible decisions about the individuals and groups that are allowed to view your posts.

On Linkedin, you can limit access to your contacts in relation to others in your network – a common practice for businesses that don’t want competitors to steal their customer base.

Googling your own name is an easy way to check how much information is available about you online. Do this once a month or so – this also lets you know if someone is using your name for dubious purposes. It’s not unheard of for people to impersonate others when replying to blog posts or conducting other online interactions, so always keep track of what’s happening online in your name. 

Keep your kids safe online

There are a number of software programs available that filter, block or otherwise control which sites your children can access. If you prefer to prevent all unsupervised browsing, you can install programs that automatically ‘forget’ access passwords until Mum or Dad are around to allow online access. Make sure you know which apps they’re using and that they’re aware of the spyware dangers of downloading apps from dubious sources.

Like adults, children should avoid clicking on unknown email attachments and sharing their passwords. Long, run-together sentences are the easiest passwords for children to remember, and are more secure than shorter ones (like birthdays or pet nicknames).

One should always log out after they’re finished with a computer (at home, at school or anywhere else) so no one can access their personal information or browsing history. 

Anti-virus programs

It’s not always easy to tell if your computer has been infected with a virus but here are a few telltale clues: your PC runs slower than normal, freezes without warning, has strange pop-up windows appear out of nowhere or just doesn’t behave normally all of a sudden.

It’s impossible to protect yourself against everything, but a decent antivirus program (designed to handle a wide range of threats) is a good start. Quality antivirus software can be regularly updated so you can protect yourself against new ‘strains’.

Beware of free antivirus systems that you’re invited to download over the Internet – these are often the quickest way to find yourself infected with a new virus! Go to a software store and buy packaged software instead. An internet security suite that offers a firewall as well as antivirus and ant-spyware protection is ideal.

Regularly delete your temporary Internet files. Aside from freeing up space on your hard drive, this also speeds up virus scanning and may even remove basic spyware.

Be aware that being connected to the Internet is not needed to become infected with a virus – some viruses can be transferred through documents or other files hidden on a CD you’ve borrowed from a friend.

Scams and phishing links

A rise in scams and phishing attempts makes it even more important for us to check before clicking any link, even if it appears to be from a trusted source.

  • Do not click on URL links from unsolicited emails and text messages
  • Verify the authenticity of the official website or sources before clicking. For example, our official website is www.budgetdirect.com.sg and our hotline is 6221 2111
  • Don’t disclose any personal information to anyone including your bank details or OTP
  • Report any fraudulent credit/debit card charges to your bank and cancel your card immediately

If you have any information relating to such crimes, you can call the Singapore Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.

You can also join the Singapore government’s campaign ‘Spot the Signs. Stop the Crimes’ at www.scamalert.sg/fight. Sign up to receive up-to-date messages and share them with your family and friends.

Common Internet scams

Here are some of the more common culprits:

  • The ‘your account will soon be deactivated’ scam

In this ploy, you get an email (allegedly from your bank or PayPal) saying there’s a problem with your account, and you should click on a link to go to their site and correct the situation. Threats of account deactivation may persuade you into clicking on the link. Unfortunately, this link doesn’t take you the genuine financial site – it takes you to a fake lookalike site that’s aimed at getting sensitive information from you. Whenever you get one of these ‘act immediately or your account will be frozen’ emails, delete it at once. These emails rely on impulsive panic, but are easily thwarted by not clicking on links in emails from financial entities. When in doubt, call them on the phone.

  • Lonely hearts scams

These scams often prey on older people, and can affect both sexes equally. A person worms their way into your online life and strikes up a friendship. The relationship deepens, and may turn to cyberspace romance. There may even be promises of marriage. Before long, they’ll ask for a small ‘loan’ under some pretext: their child is sick, they need airfare money to come visit you, etc. If you pay, they’ll thank you profusely, wait a suitable length of time, and ask for more money for something else – and on it goes. The person you’ve fallen for might not even exist: their photo could be a phony, and their life history a fairy tale.

  • The ‘take our survey’ scam

This is one of the most common ways for computer hackers to install malware or spyware on your computer. When you take the requested survey, these criminals install their programs and can then check on your every online move, scanning for passwords, credit card information and anything else usable for financial gain. Avoiding online surveys is a wise move. The survey may appear to be from a legitimate source (and may even promise a prize for participating), but a check of the sender’s email address will usually reveal a suspicious URL. Delete it immediately.

  • The ‘work from home and make thousands a week’ scam

The way these work is that you get an email (or respond to a pop-up on a site you’ve visited) telling you about the sure-fire way you can ‘earn $5,000 a week while you sleep!’ Upon responding, you’ll discover that to get to the ‘top earning level’ you’ll need to fork out for some training materials. If you don’t, they’ll typically bombard you with emails to ask why you haven’t taken this ‘simple step toward financial freedom’. A variation on this theme is the fake (but extremely lucrative) job offer that asks for an upfront fee to ‘process your application’. 

  • Unpaid bills and fines scam

Victims receive text messages that are purportedly from official sources such as the Land Transport Authority (LTA) notifying them of unpaid bills or fines. They click on a link embedded in the messages to view information regarding the supposed fines but are instead directed to fraudulent websites. After they provide their credit or debit card details and one-time passwords (OTPs), they subsequently discover unauthorised transactions made with their cards.

Beware of anything that seems too good to be true. Delete unsolicited emails, and adjust your privacy settings. 

For more details on Singapore scams check out: www.scamalert.sg.

Data Synchronisation of Mobile Devices

Some smart phones have features that allow data synchronisation between the mobile device and online storage or cloud services in near real time. Information that could be synchronised includes SMS, email, etc.

For smart phone users who had enabled the abovementioned data synchronisation, sensitive information sent via SMS or emails to you such as one-time passwords (OTPs), could be accessed by criminals if your login credentials to the online storage or cloud services have been compromised. Exposed OTPs together with online banking credentials or credit card information can potentially be used by criminals to perform fraudulent financial transactions.

What are we doing at Budget Direct Insurance Singapore to keep you safe online?

As a leading online insurer we take many precautions to keep your information safe. The most important aspect of our online safety is our secure server.

For your protection, services that involve the provision of confidential information are provided via a secure server. The information is encrypted using the Secure Socket Layer Protocol (SSL). This significantly improves the security of the information you provide. Rest assured your security is our chief number one concern.

Finally, the ‘go-to’ website for all online security in Singapore is Go safe online at: www.csa.gov.sg/gosafeonline

Here you will also find useful advice on incident reporting.

We’ll be regularly updating our online security advice so please keep a lookout. If you have any enquiries relating to your personal information processed by us online, you may also write in to our Data Protection Officer at [email protected].

Budget Direct Insurance Singapore. Keeping you safe on the roads and online. 

Related blog article: https://www.budgetdirect.com.sg/blog/car-insurance/stay-safe-lets-fight-online-fraud-together

Last updated: 26 January 2023