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Guide to Finances and Security Tips

As with the personal safety guide, this is intended for use in any situation, not just church based.

This is aimed at being safety tips and guidelines to help protect you from robbery at cashpoints, from fraud and from having your financial identity and information stolen. It's just common sense stuff you'd hear from TV put into one place. It's not comprehensive and will be added to. But it's a growing problem so watch out.

Personal Information

- Be very careful how much personal information you give out to people - about where you live, where you work, your personal info. Don't leave papers lying around, speak quietly when at the bank.

- If you get a receipt from a cash machine or goods, make sure you wait for and retain this. Most places now have receipts that don't give away your card number (eg xxxx xxxx xxxx 1234) but just in case, don't throw away your receipt without destroying or burning it. It may contain valuable info.

Most stolen info comes from people's garbage. Beware. Dispose of all personal info very carefully. I burn mine. Never simply throw out receipts into your trash. Keep receipts for up to 3-5 years after key purchases. Keep records of mail sent recorded delivery etc.

- When carrying valuable information, keep it close to your person, or in a folder, well organised, or on your person. Pass the info to those who need to see it only (for example in a bank). Ask the cashier not to speak loudly when counting money.

Cash, Visa and Cashpoint Machines

- Look behind you when going to a cashpoint. If you can, get cash from inside a bank or in a shop via cash back etc.

- One tip when at a cashpoint is to look around before you use it, look around as you use it and look into any mirror or any reflective / metallic part of the machine to look behind you for any potential attacker.

- Look for suspicious devices in a cash machine, like anything that could be a miniature camera (reading you put your PIN number in). If the machine doesn't seem to work or doesn't return your card, stay with the machine and phone the police.

- When leaving a cashpoint take a look around. If you are inside an enclosed area check who's outside. Make sure you put all your money into your wallet and into your pocket before you even open the door to leave.

- When paying at a shop and getting cash back, try to be as discreet as possible. Again, transfer the cash to your person as quickly as possible.

- If you're worried about this kind of thing, consider carrying a fake wallet with you (put stuff in if you want). If you do have a problem throw down the wallet and get away.

- When entering your PIN number into a cash machine or when paying for goods via 'chip and pin' in stores, do so very carefully so that nobody nearby can read your number. Use one hand to type in and one hand to cover the other hand.

- When paying with a card in a restaurant or shop, go to the payment place and watch the assistant put the card through the machine. Watch out for people using visa card readers etc. Check the receipt before signing for the correct amount. Do this with all purchases.

Online Purchases

- Make sure when you are ordering from a website that the company is genuine. Either order from a company you know (for example hmv.co.uk) or a store someone else has used. If you're uncertain, take a look at the 'about us' section, look for a contact address and number, for customer services / returns information, customer testimonials. See if the site has certificates (such as Thawte) that guarantee online security and encryption. Make sure the site is well ordered and laid out. Shoddy sites can be a give away (but not always!) Many browsers also show you a secure digital signature, giving you extra confidence.

- Make sure the website uses encryption before you order. The way to check is to make sure your browser says something like 'https://xxxxxxxx" rather than just "http://xxxxxxxx". The added 's' on 'https' stands for secure. You must check for a padlock on your browser. On Internet Explorer this is located at the bottom right of the browser. On Firefox it is on the bottom left. On Safari it is on the top right, this is also where the secure digital signature is displayed.

- If you are using a shared computer, make sure you do not cross (or uncross) any part that says something like 'always remember me' or 'always remember this computer'. This may allow another user to access your order or info and leave the computer unattended.

- Equally important is that you ALWAYS log out of anything you've logged in to. So if you're checking online email via say tiscali.co.uk, log out using the logout feature on the left menu. If you're using ebay, make sure you click on 'sign out' on the top menu. If you don't someone can come along, check your browser history (or hit the back button) and then view your personal information. If this includes your card details or home address, they will get this. So always log out.

- If you pay for purchases with a credit card you get extra protection - more so than just using a debit card.

- Be careful online too. Careful of dodgy sites, offensive content and of being addicted to the internet itself or to places like ebay or online shopping in general.

- Keep internet passwords / other passwords secure and make them varied and unique, as far as you can - such as using numbers, smallcase and uppercase letters and symbols (eg. 2wE77*4bMY). Consider changing passwords regularly.

- Some online purchases now have the option of extra protection, such as a pin code, or a text to your phone (Paypal) or a memorable piece of information or extra code (Visa etc). Use them!!

- Check your bank statements regularly and consider setting up online banking. Check for any unusual transactions. If your bank is decent they will sometimes stop your card if they detect suspicious activity on your card.

- Never click on 'phishing' emails which purport to be from reputable companies but never are. If your bank, a shop that you've used before writes to you, they always use your name, never ask you for personal information and will have a web address (if you click on) that points to that company. For example, if you get an email from ebay, the web address in your browser will say ebay.co.uk, not dodgysite.ru or something!!

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