Scams are among the most prevalent types of crime in the UK, and coronavirus is creating a perfect environment for fraudsters to thrive using a range of loathsome tactics. What can you do to protect yourself against scams and misinformation?
The things to watch out for in emails and other messages are: Unsolicited emails and texts: be careful of anything you weren’t expecting that claims to be from an organisation such as a bank, BT, Sky, PayPal, Microsoft, the BBC and other large, trusted organisations. And at the moment, particularly watch out for unsolicited emails claiming to come from health bodies such as the NHS, the WHO and the CDC.
An urgent tone: phishing and smishing messages are designed to scare you into clicking on their links.
Grammar and spelling: the phishing email claiming to come from the WHO is clumsily written and has typos such no spaces after commas.
No name: legitimate emails from services you have accounts with will always address you by name. Phishing emails and smishing texts usually start with ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Customer’.
Fake domains: scammers often set up website addresses that look legitimate in order to trick you. Security researchers Digital Shadows says that more than 1,400 domains linked to the Covid-19 disease caused by the coronavirus have been registered in the past three months.
While many of those may well be legitimate, others will almost certainly be used to trick anxious consumers into thinking they’re genuine.
When it comes to claims circulating via social media, there are a couple of things you can check.
Snopes is the original fact-checking website: if it’s not true, Snopes has probably written it up. Other fact-checking websites are also worth keeping an eye on: Full Fact is a British website that can be trusted, while Channel 4 News has its own FactCheck website.
Above all, make sure your computers, mobile phones and tablets are up to date, and for Windows, Macs and Android devices, you should install antivirus software and keep that up to date, too. Antivirus will protect you from threats such as the banking Trojan contained in the Italian emails, and can also warn you if you’re visiting a website that’s been reported for phishing or that contain malware.
If you’ve been scammed, report what’s happened to Action Fraud, the UK’s national centre for reporting fraud and cybercrime. Categories: Computing, Technology Tagged as: coronavirus phishing Scams.
Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Typically carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging, it often directs users to enter personal information at a fake website which matches the look and feel of the legitimate site.
A form of phishing, smishing is when someone tries to trick you into giving them your private information via a text or SMS message. Smishing is becoming an emerging and growing threat in the world of online security.
Telephone and doorstep scams
Be wary of calls, and even visitors to your home. People are being warned as there has been an increase in scam calls. These could follow typical patterns of callers claiming to be authority figures, which may include the police, HMRC or your bank, and involve requests to transfer money or hand over sensitive account login information, or your Pin code.
We are seeing an increase in scams involving subscription accounts – such as Amazon Prime, claiming that an account has been hacked and requesting that you enter your details to address the issue. We’ve also seen reports of particularly nasty scams where criminals are taking advantage of older people by knocking on their doors. One scam has the criminals offering to take their temperature – thus allowing them into the house, where residents can be robbed or worse. Police in Cheshire warned via Twitter that they had had reports of people knocking on doors and telling elderly residents that they are from the Red Cross and offering to test them for the coronavirus – and charging them for doing so.
Scams selling face masks and hand sanitiser
Other potential scams include criminals claiming to sell you things like protective clothing.
And remember the callers in person or on the phone will sound genuine, friendly and helpful – but they are not they are out to scam you.