How to outsmart the scammers
Posted on 17th December 2020 at 12:49
With Brexit, COVID and Christmas dominating the news agenda, along with our usual concerns about tax, viruses and, ironically, fraud, scammers are having a field day preying on people’s fears and vulnerabilities.
Not only are these scams tricking less tech-savvy people, but through increasingly sophisticated and convincing emails, calls and texts, they are catching out even the more shrewd and switched-on consumers - seeing more than £207million stolen from Britons in the first six months of this year.
Here's a heads-up on some of the 'cleverest' scams doing the rounds right now…
Taking advantage of the fact that many households have signed up to Amazon Prime since the pandemic hit, fraudsters claiming to be calling from the brand's security team are contacting customers and gaining their trust by informing them that their accounts have been compromised.
In the pretence of ‘resolving’ the situation, the caller then asks them to download remote access software, TeamViewer, which is then used to access the victim’s online bank account.
An Amazon spokesperson warned customers to be on their guard: “We take phishing and spoofing attempts on our customers seriously, and will never call a customer for payment outside of our website."
Scammers pretending to work for Sky are using an automated phone call to persuade customers to agree to speak to a call-handler, who will then attempt to remotely access their computer so that they can access financial information.
A relative of Iridium associate, Matt Rowe, fell victim to this scam earlier in the year:
“My wife’s uncle was scammed this year by a company pretending to be Sky. They called to say his PC had become infected with a virus and set-up a remote session to fix it, at which point they installed tracking software. They then asked him to check his internet services were working, including his online banking, where they gained full access to his online banking credentials. They then emptied his account the next day. Fortunately his Bank (HSBC) agreed to cover him after I wrote a letter pointing out their lack of anti-fraud protection.
This reinforces the need for everyone to receive anti-phishing training, arguably this should be anyone with a bank account”.
'DPD' and 'Royal Mail'
Convincing scam emails, which claim to be from DPD or Royal Mail, are doing the rounds in the thick of the Christmas delivery period, asking recipients for address information so a parcel can be redelivered, along with a shipping fee to cover the cost of re-delivery.
This is to fool people into clicking on links and hand over personal and banking details, which can be used for all manners of identity fraud and bank theft.
Particularly relevant to our network of contractors and self-employed workers.… There’s an ongoing wave of clever new phone, SMS and email scams from fraudsters pretending to be from HMRC, including a recent scam where people receive a voicemail from ‘HMRC’ explaining they have overdue tax and must contact them immediately to make payment to avoid being arrested. It’s always worth familiarising yourself with the HMRCs phishing page for up-to-date information to avoid inadvertently falling into a nasty trap.
'NHS Track & Trace'
Scammers, pretending to be from NHS contact tracing services, are contacting people to persuade them to hand over money and personal details by offering ‘fast track’ testing for a fee.
Most people are aware that NHS coronavirus tests are completely free for everyone, but Iridium associate, Lee Matthew, explains why these types of scams tend to be successful: “I know Track & Trace has been used to generate email and phone attacks, and these can be effective as people are obviously very concerned about COVID right now, and are probably more likely to listen or click.”
A COVID-19 vaccination scam is circulating across the country, with texts or recorded messages offering people a chance to get the vaccination ahead of the queue.
The recipient is required to respond by clicking a link in the text message or by pressing 1 when receiving the call. They are then asked to give personal information, as well as financial details to ‘book’ their vaccination.
Barclays has warned UK businesses that cyber-criminals will target them with scams relating to changing rules at the end of the Brexit transition period. The bank has urged companies to stay vigilant, with fraudsters likely to try and capitalise on this period of uncertainty in a similar way to how it has during COVID-19.
It is vital that businesses ensure their fraud and scam prevention practices are up-to-date in areas such as receiving unexpected calls, protecting against malicious messages and on confirming the identity of new suppliers.
Other popular scams to be aware of this Christmas and beyond:
Fake Facebook and other social media pages pretending to be brands.
Counterfeit goods - if a price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Purchase Scams - if buying anything from a marketplace, make sure the transaction takes place on the marketplace platform.
E-greetings cards - sadly can contain malicious software hidden in animations, pictures, videos, or a link to a hacker-controlled website
Fake websites - take time to check the URL starts with the secure https://
Gift card scams, fake charities or emails that urge ‘urgent’ action…
Sadly the list is endless, so please be on your guard, never hand over personal or financial details on an unsolicited call, email or SMS, don’t click on any unexpected links, and if it’s a human at the end of a phone, ask the caller if you can ring them back on the official company phone number.
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