Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Be Smart & Not Scared by these Scams!

Changing situations present new opportunities for the dishonest minority and scams, whether by email or telephone, are no exception and are constantly being adapted to spoof the unsuspecting.

Many of us will have received emails advising that we are in line for a small fortune of overseas wealth……subject to confirming our banking details or covering the modest administration fees up front. In fact this scam predates email having been seen on standard letters and faxes, even acquiring its own identification of “419” which refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud.

The scam tapped into greed or desperation though most of us would like to think ourselves savvy enough to not fall for this. Some schemes, however, are a little more thought out.

A quick search of the internet will provide a wealth of information and examples but I have picked out a few to illustrate what should set the alarm bells ringing.

The “Refund” phone call

The Pitch – you receive a phone call, perhaps claiming to be from an unfortunate company such as Thomas Cook after their recent collapse, promising that you will receive a refund for the holiday you have booked or product you have purchased.

The Scam – you will receive this refund in exchange for the ‘long number on the front of your credit card as well as the three digits on the back’…alarm bells should be ringing!

The Clues – in case of any uncertainty, you will never be required to give out your card details in order to receive a refund. You may be asked to confirm your bank account name, number & sort code, however instead, in order to receive any money.

The Correct Response – end the call and contact the company directly to ask for your refund.

The “Urgent Transfer” email

This scam has recently been highlighted by the BBC here.

The Pitch – you receive an email apparently from your boss, the company Director, advising that a deal has been done.

The Scam – you will be asked to transfer money urgently to a certain bank account in order to finalise the deal.

The Clues – while the message looks just as though it has come from your boss, look closely and the sending address may be slightly misspelt or the email itself may contain incorrect spelling and grammar. These scams often include a sense of urgency, sometimes include “Re.” or “Fwd.” in the subject line to appear as though they’re part of a previous conversation and are also often sent on a Monday morning in the hope of catching someone unawares.

The Correct Response – before transferring any money to any account, be sure to get verbal confirmation from your boss!

The “Virus” phone call

The Pitch – you receive a phone call, often claiming to be from Microsoft, advising that you have a virus on your PC. They can talk you through what might be wrong and, by following the caller’s instruction, end up having access to your PC to demonstrate the problem.

The Scam – you will either be asked for credit card details to pay for the fix or, by following the caller’s instructions, may have installed something which allows the scammer access to further personal details such as bank details.

The Clues – Even if an organisation has accurately identified your PC as containing a virus they shouldn’t have access to information that matches this to your phone number.

The Correct Response – end the call and, if you have any doubts, check with your trusted IT support regarding the welfare of your PC or laptop.

The On-screen “Virus” Warning (or drive-by download)

The Pitch – an unexpected screen pops up and displays a virus warning and/or a visual representation of a virus scan in progress identifying ‘threats’ on your system.

The Scam – at this point in time things may still be quite benign, but click on any of the warning windows at your peril as you may be accepting a further download. You may have already inadvertently triggered some software without realizing it.

The Clues – the warning screen is actually a browser window and may even show up as such on the taskbar. The name of the faux virus software ‘scanning’ your system will be unfamiliar to you compared with your installed anti-virus software

The Correct Response – resist the temptation to click on any windows. Close active windows from the task bar or task manager. Run scans using your legitimate anti-virus software and, if you have any doubts, check with your trusted IT support regarding the welfare of your PC or laptop.

There are many, many more examples, some of which we cover in the video clip below – a guide to spotting fake emails – as well as a recent article here.

Spotting Fake Emails – A Video Guide

Scams and spoofs are always evolving but what I hope we can take  away from this piece is the principles of being both vigilant and sceptical.

Good anti-virus software is a must, appropriate email scanning tools (on the PC or at source) is a useful addition but, ultimately, we must keep our wits about us and look for the clues in the various media which is open to exploitation.

Finally, do remember that the confidence trickster is so named for a reason. If one does fall foul of a particular scam then then appreciate that you have been exploited by someone else’s dishonesty and trickery. However, if you are in the habit of clicking links in emails and accepting unsolicited correspondence at face value, ask me for the going price on the bridge I’m currently selling.

If you have any queries or concerns about any of the above or any links you may have inadvertently clicked on, do give us a call on 0118 9767111.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *