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Make sure you enter your email address correctly when signing up online!

notjusthackers

According to a recent report, people are unwittingly “handing over the keys to their digital life”. BBC News has revealed that journalists were able to see details of a stranger’s credit report after an individual entered the wrong email address when signing up to the online service.

In this case, a person signed up to a credit service, but when doing so, entered a slightly incorrect email address. This email address then doubled as the account username.

When an email was sent from the credit service to confirm the account, it was, therefore, sent to the wrong person. Someone whose email address was almost the same as theirs.

And because this stranger had full access to the account, they could get into the account and even change the password. So, one small mistake let the wrong person see a huge range of personal information including the date of birth and previous addresses of the actual account holder, as well as information about their applications for credit.

The problem with email

Most of us hand over our email addresses in return for services. And we do so willingly. But our email address provides a way into our digital life. Just one wrong letter or a dot in the wrong place could mean that our personal and sensitive information falls into the wrong hands.

In most cases, if someone with a name like yours gets access to a service you signed up for they are likely to delete it (often thinking it might be spam). But are you willing to take that risk?

In this case, the information accessed would be extremely valuable to cybercriminals, who could use it to apply for loans and other credit in your name.

How to protect yourself

At present, most businesses have processes in place to respond to errors and stop fraud from happening. But what if you don’t know you have made a mistake until it is too late?

Valuable data is being put at risk by people inputting the wrong email address. So simply having a few words of warning on a site asking people to check that they have entered the right details isn’t working.

In response, companies are being urged to find other ways to check their customers are who they say they are (e.g. two-factor authentication and ensuring people signing up for a service enter their email address twice  – with no cut and paste option).

But to keep yourself safe online it’s vital that you do everything you can to protect yourself from fraud, and become more vigilant when signing up online.

For more advice on how to keep safe online, follow Hayes Connor on Twitter or give us a like on Facebook. Alternatively, if you have been the victim of a data breach or cyber fraud, find out how we can help you to recover any losses or give us a call on 0151 363 5895.