Fraud has become a part of everyday life online and cyber criminals are constantly evolving their tactics.
Over the past year, cyber experts have seen an increasing number of campaigns related to coronavirus and the NHS, including emails and texts related to the launch of vaccines and fake Covid-19 apps.
More familiar names like HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), Royal Mail, and TV Licensing are also being copied to trick people into disclosing sensitive information and to use pictures of famous faces like Martin Lewis and Sir Richard Branson in fake news articles.
Here we explain what to look out for and how you can prevent fraud.
What attacks do I have to watch out for?
Watch out for phishing attacks – these are emails and text messages pretending to be someone you trust.
Over the past year, a number of pandemic-related attempts have come to light that have offered things like vaccines, cures, and even claims that people have been fined for being lifted.
The perpetrators use all sorts of real world problems like the coronavirus to get people to act.
Often times, the end goal is to convince users to click a link that takes them to a shady website that might look authentic, that could get a virus installed, or trick people into revealing passwords and personal information.
What can I do to detect suspicious messages?
According to the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), there are several things that need to be considered in order to find out whether a message is real or not.
First, authority, as criminals often try to mimic important places like banks or government departments in order to get a person’s attention.
Look at the urgency. Messages that say you have limited time to reply or face fines are used to trick people into making rash decisions.
Does the message arouse emotions? Threatening language, dubious claims for support, or messages intended to tempt you to find out more are signs.
Another thing to look out for is if they offer something deficient, such as: B. Concert tickets. This, in turn, can be used to get people to engage with it without thinking about it first.
And even more urgent is that criminals will take advantage of current events – in the last year it was not surprising that the coronavirus was a major issue. However, other important events like tax reporting are another area to watch out for.
There are other tell-tale signs as well. Phishing attacks are sometimes vague when generic terms such as “dear customer” are used in place of your name.
It’s also important to remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
How can I check if I’m not sure?
If you’re not sure, contact an official source to check. Do not interact with or use the message you received.
For example, if you received something from HMRC or Royal Mail, contact them directly to see if it is legitimate. To do this, use the official website or contact number.
What if I am already a victim of fraud?
If you have provided bank details, you should contact your bank immediately and follow their instructions.
Those who believe they have been hacked should change their passwords quickly and speak to their provider.
Anyone who thinks they have a virus installed on their device should be running their antivirus software.
Can I help you?
The NCSC removes more fraud campaigns than ever before. Experts monitor a 15-fold increase in 2020 over the previous year.
There are ways members of the public can aid in this effort by forwarding suspicious messages to the NCSC for investigation.
Suspicious emails can be forwarded to [email protected]
Meanwhile, shady text messages can be forwarded to 7726 for free.