Online scams are growing along with the wider use of the internet and as such we all need to be aware of the risks that are about each time we go online. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be a genuine company trying to get you to supply personal information such as bank account details, passwords and the answer to your security questions. These may also try to get you to click a link or open an attachment that takes you to a copy cat site or secretly installs software that can track your keyboard movements with the ultimate aim of you un-wittingly divulging your security details the next time you make an online purchase or complete online transactions with your bank
This type of email can re-direct you to a hoax site looking completely like the genuine organisations website. Once there you may be asked to enter your log in details, including your user name and password. Criminals then having accessed your personal details can use the information to commit fraud and land you with large bills. Having obtained your details it is simple for them to set up accounts in your name, purchase items with your bank details, have the items delivered to a new address and the first you know about it is when your next bank statement turns up and you are faced with a spending spree you never had.
Another twist on phishing is ‘spear-fishing’. Spear phishing is an email from a person or business that you know. But it’s the same criminals who have just done a bit more digging and have looked at your social network profile to provide them with the information they need to make the email sound more personal and catch you off guard. With the email starting “Hi John” instead of “Dear Sir” with the intention of lowering your defences in order to get you to open the attachment thinking the message comes from a genuine source and allowing the installation of unwanted items onto your computer.
Scammers will send out emails claiming to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) or your local council telling you that you have been overcharged and to receive your refund ‘click here’. Of course this is just another way to con you into giving information or allowing the criminals to gain access to your computer. HMRC and your council will never contact you in this way. Do not be conned!
The internet is full of scam emails purporting to be from AMAZON and other large online companies, because the professional minds behind the criminal scammers know there’s a good chance that YOU are an AMAZON (or other large retailer) customer and may easily fall for that email that drops into your INBOX about the product you didn’t order, and even asking you to ‘click the link’ on the box that says “not your order? CLICK HERE” REALLY! But people still fall for this scam. They’re then back to everything already discussed in our previous text.
If you do supply sensitive information on a website, always ensure that the site is secure. The address of the page should start with “https://” not just “http://” and the Lock icon should be displayed in the browser’s status bar. If these indicators are not present, it means that the site is not secure and information you enter on the site is not protected.
Always TAKE FIVE and check any email is the genuine thing before you go head long into answering it, especially one with links or IMAGES from your friend John. Why’s John sending me pictures of his holiday?
The message “DON’T CLICK THE LINK”
- Stay vigilant and do not just accept that email for what it is.
- Never open attachments to see where the message has come from.
- Never open the ‘invoice’ attachment from a company you’ve never dealt with.
- Be wary of spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in the message or address bar – they may have odd spe11ings or CaPiTaLs to try to get round spam filters in your inbox.
- Never provide personal details to an email that you did not initiate.
- Do not reply to ‘get rich quick’ emails – these may be lottery, prize draws or even pyramid selling schemes.
- Never use ‘click here’ on an email – you cannot see the address you are being directed to.
- Be wary of ‘unsubscribe here’ links – they too can be false and lead you into installing malicious software.
- Be careful what details you place onto social media sites – you never know who is collecting that information to use against you.
- If you are NOT SURE – BIN IT!
HOW YOU CAN HELP
- Discuss the way Email Scams work with relatives, friends or clients.
- Ask if they receive strange emails from unknown people and what they do with them.
- Have they responded to any official looking emails?
- Make sure they know about https:// and http://.
- Advise them not to be panicked into making a quick decision on their computer – some scammers make claims of ‘Act now or we will close your account’.
- Get them to seek advice if they are unsure.
- Keep anti-virus and firewalls updated.
If you, a relative, friend or someone you look after has been a victim of Scam Emails please report the matter immediately to Action Fraud by following the link on this page.
The reports received by Action Fraud will be forwarded to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau run by the City of London Police for collation and analysis. This will enable crucial intelligence to be gathered and preventative action to be taken. The activity will seek to disrupt the fraudsters and close down the links between them and the victim.For further Email Scam examples follow this link: Hoax Slayer