Do NOT get scammed when using the Internet
It is several years since I published the following article in an attempt to provide information to the readers of this website that would save them from losing money to on-line fraudsters. Reports in the media would suggest that many people are still being robbed by such people and I am again drawing the attention of readers to the ways in which they can keep safe. The addresses and contacts are, as far as I am aware, still current but if any details are known to be incorrect, I would like to be informed.
The following item is a copy of a message from Essex Community Messaging
Scams & Suspect Traders - a round-up of some recent notifications
It seems that there is always someone trying to relieve you of your hard earned money & possessions. To help avoid becoming a victim make sure that anti-virus packages on your PC or smartphone are up to date, if you receive unsolicited phone calls hang up without giving any information and if you have cold callers at your door say ‘No thanks’ & close the door.
In addition to the two scams recently publicized on Essex Community Messaging I’ve listed some of the common scams that are also being used at present. While some are obviously false others are quite convincing at first sight.
- Phishing scam Email received stating that ‘your account has been compromised / your security details need updating’ or ‘You have won a £xxx prize’ with a request to click on a link to update or provide information. There is often the threat that your account will be closed if you do not take action. Clicking on the link and giving the information can lead to financial loss or identity theft or download programs that may intercept personal information (Malware) or lock your computer until a fee is paid (Ransomware).
This type of email often appears genuine as it will have the company logo and correct postal addresses etc. However, if you hover your cursor over the ‘from’ on the email the address shown will not be the company you expect.
Some of the company names the scammers have used – all the High Street Banks, Credit Card companies, BT, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Tesco, Vodaphone, Sky, EE, HMRC, Amazon, PayPal, Royal Mail, DHL and many more
- HMRC, & Local Councils – ‘You are due a refund of Income Tax or Council Tax, click on the link to reclaim’. Again, clicking on the link and giving information can lead to financial loss or identity theft or download programs that may intercept personal information (Malware).
If you receive these types of email, please forward them to the security department of the company it is meant to be from. I have included a list of some useful links at the end of this document.
- The caller claims to be from ‘Windows Security’ or ‘Microsoft’ and claims that a virus has been detected on your computer. They say that they can fix it if given remote access and explain how to give them your IP address (this is the unique id of your computer). They are then able to access your computer to gain your information or download malware or ransomware. This scam often ends with a demand for money to release control of your computer. The best way of dealing with this type of call is just to hang up without giving any information.
- The caller claims to be from your Phone, Broadband or Satellite provider and says that you are due a refund. You are asked to either confirm your banking details, amend your online account or contact your bank with details they supply. Doing this can result in financial loss
Some of the company names used by the scammers - BT, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Vodaphone, Sky, EE
The best way to deal with this type of call is not to get involved in any discussion, don’t give any information, just hang up.
A number of reputable charities use door to door fundraising. Their representatives will carry photo ID and are often dressed in branded clothing. They will be happy for you to call a number at their headquarters to confirm their ID and that they are genuine callers. If you have access to the internet the charity will probably have details on their website of the areas being canvassed. Among the charities using door to door canvassing are Essex & Herts Air Ambulance, British Red Cross, RSPCA, British Heart Foundation. These organizations should not be confused with those shown below
- “Nottingham Knockers” – so named as they were first identified operating in Nottingham. Their sales pitch usually is: - ‘I’m an ex-convict working with the police/ probation office/local council trying to go straight by selling goods door to door….’ The goods are usually low quality and overpriced. They may show an I.D., this will not have been issued by any council or the police.
- Cold calling Builders claiming that work is needed on your roof / property. If an estimate is given the final bill tends to be much higher. They apply pressure to pay up front or take the owner to their bank to withdraw cash.
If you are thinking of having any work done our suggestion is to get a detailed estimate from more than one builder of your choice before agreeing to any work being started. Further advice on dealing with suspect traders is given on the Essex Police website at http://www.essex.police.uk/be_safe/rogue_traders.aspx
If you are cold called by any suspect trader our advice is not to engage in conversation and just close the door. Do not agree to any work being done and do not hand over any money. Let the Police know your concerns by calling the non-emergency number 101, or in an emergency dial 999.
- Congratulations! You have won £ xxxxxxx in the Anyplace Lottery. To release the funds please send an administrative fee to …
Ask yourself – have I bought a ticket? No? Then I can’t have won. If you send money for the administrative fee this invariably leads to further requests for money – and ‘winning’ notifications from other competitions you haven’t entered.
If you receive this sort of mail throw it in the recycling bin.
Who to contact if you receive scam or phishing e-mails
Banks & Credit Cards
Alliance & Leicester firstname.lastname@example.org
American Express email@example.com
Bank Safe Online via www.BankSafeOnline.org.uk
Lloyds TSB firstname.lastname@example.org
PayPal via www.paypal.com
TD Bank Financial Group email@example.com
Other Useful Contacts
Action Fraud firstname.lastname@example.org
Action Fraud www.actionfraud.police.uk
BT (British Telecom) email@example.com
Companies House firstname.lastname@example.org
Cyber Crime Website www.cyberstreetwise.com
Foreign Email scams email@example.com
Microsoft (including Hotmail, Live, Outlook) http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/outlook/abuse-phishing-junk-email
Office of Fair Trading scam line firstname.lastname@example.org
TalkTalk via www.talktalk.co.uk
AN EXAMPLE OF AN ATTEMPTED PHISHING EXPEDITION
I have received an attempted phishing attack that is extremely convincing and feel that the action that I have taken might be of value to people who are also attacked in a similar way.
I have an account with with a company called FastHostsUK and the name used in the phishing attempt was QuickHostsUK. This is similar enough to catch out a recipient who was not paying enough attention - for whatever reason. I'm certain that many, if not all, of us have either been caught out or nearly so by such a similarity as this.
Various clues from my protection software and the text (that I read without clicking on any of the links) convinced me that the email was not genuine.
The most obvious clue in practically all phishing emails is the use of 'Dear Customer' in the opening of the email. If the sender is from a genuine organisation, your name will be known to that organisation!
Many of you will be aware of this and other clues but may not be aware of the VERY IMPORTANT course of action to take.
If you quite correctly delete the suspect email without following any blue-coloured link to another website which usually asks you to verify your details, then you will be safe. (If you do follow a link, your details will not be verified, they will be obtained from you in order to defraud you in some way.)
However, that action is insufficient to reduce this sort of fraud.
There is a website that is run by the national police in an attempt to stop phishing, and similar attempts, that collates all reported attacks. It requires people to complete a small, anonymous survey and then to forward the suspect email to a website before deleting it from your computer.
The website is www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-az-phishing
If, however, you think that your computer has been infected with a fraud-connected program, use this website - www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-az-malware
BE AWARE AT ALL TIMES AND REMAIN SAFE.