“Trick or Treat?” Indeed! Computer crime is on the increase.
Ghoulish Internet scammers are tricking people like you (and some law firms) with their online skulduggery.
Halloween is as good a time as any to give you a heads–up and help you ward off the evil spirits trying to trick you out of thousands of pounds whether or not you’re buying your new home.
What Online and Offline Scams Should You Look Out For?
There are a range of scams - they even have spooky names.
We’ll go through the most common and give you tips on how to help you avoid being a victim of cyber-crime.
Specifically email scams.
These fraudsters will disguise themselves in an email as your Bank or other trusted organisations to acquire your personal details.
The website address will be familiar, but crucially one or two letters will be incorrect, which may not be obvious.
Some scammers will even go as far as creating a replica of the organisation’s website, which they will provide a link for you in the email.
You may be asked, for example, to ‘act fast’ and click a link to prevent your online access from being blocked.
How to Avoid Phishing.
Check Emails Thoroughly.
Genuine emails from banks will often include a name, so be aware of those that begin: ‘Dear valued customer’, for example.
Banks will never ask you for any personal information by email. You should not respond to any email asking you to divulge your full pin or password. If at all, Banks would only ask you for random characters.
It will be a good idea if you have the name and email of your Bank Manager, your Branch or a trusted contact within the Bank. And, only speak with them.
If you don’t have a name, ask your Bank for one by visiting the Branch.
Remember to check any links by hovering over them first without clicking to see the real web address source.
Another key thing is looking out for spelling and grammar mistakes; this can be telling.
Take your time with any Bank or Solicitor email asking for financial information.
Treat this type of email as suspicious.
Don’t act on it immediately – print it if you can and go away for an hour or so and revisit it after making other enquiries.
The classic telephone scam.
Fraudsters will call you, claiming that there is an issue with your Bank account to obtain confidential details such as online banking passwords
They will then refer you to an alternative number to call them back on.
By holding the line open until you call, they make you believe that you have reached your bank. By this point, they ask you to transfer funds into a ‘safe’ account that they control.
How to Avoid Vishing.
Test bank phone lines.
If you think a call from the bank sounds a bit fishy, call them back on a number you believe is the correct one.
Ideally, you should call this number from a different phone line, for example, a mobile phone.
If you do not have a spare phone at hand, ask a friend or family member to call the line for you.
Do not divulge bank information to anyone.
Banks do not require online log-on details or security challenge response codes over the phone. Banks will never ask you to move any money into a “safe account”- this is an account that will be controlled by the fraudster.
Fraudsters utilise technology to imitate telephone numbers and email addresses of genuine organisations.
Fraudsters can alter the incoming call number, so you believe it is your bank that is calling on your phone display. They may also send an email, pretending to be a person of authority from a business, and instruct you to make an online payment.
How to Avoid Spoofing.
It’s important to know some standard security practices to help reduce your email account exposure.
For example, it’s important to keep your internet activity from prying eyes; anyone could walk past and see who you are emailing.
Ensure that you lock your computer every time you leave it unattended; if only for a moment.
Only use your primary email account for correspondence with people you know and trust.
Also, if you are filling out any details or posting any information publicly online, it’s best to use a throw-away email account such as Hotmail or Gmail which you can delete later on if you need to.
Malware are Viruses and Trojans that can appear as attachments or free downloads on your computer.
Malware may have been inserted into your computer many years ago “sleeping” until you use trigger words in an email.
Malware can pop up during an online banking session, prompting you to insert codes and passwords; these can seem deceivingly genuine.
Fraudsters can then use your details to access your account.
How to Avoid Malware.
Protect your PC.
Use the highest quality and most up to date anti-virus and anti spy-ware software.
This type of software is relatively inexpensive for the benefit they can bring to you. The software will be regularly updated, and scans will take place frequently to identify and remove malware.
Only trusted sources allowed.
You should always check that programmes come from a reliable source and are 100% safe before downloading them -your anti-virus software will often prompt you.
There have been recent incidences of scammers impersonating Conveyancing firms and asking people moving home to send monies to a new law firm bank account.
You may have received a genuine email from your Conveyancers requesting either the deposit for your house purchase or the balance of monies required to complete your purchase.
The scammers will have used Malware to intercept your emails. Shortly after receipt of the original you will receive an email from the fraudster apologising for sending the wrong Bank details and asking you to send the monies to the correct account – the fraudster’s.
A true story about a Conveyancing scam was shown on Channel 5 recently in the programme Secrets of the Scammers. You can still watch catch up on Demand 5 to view it until 27th October 2016.
How To Avoid Conveyancing Scammers
Let’s tell you what we do to keep our clients safe:
No More Horror Stories
Online fraud is a regrettable fact of life.
But, with extra vigilance and following a strict routine you can keep your money safe.
Ensure you do not fall foul of the scammers and become an unwitting participant in a very scary and personal horror story.
For more information on how you can keep safe visit these websites: