How to protect yourself and your business from fraud and #besafeonline
For home computer users, businesses or anyone with a smart phone, online fraud is a legitimate concern. Without wanting to be all doom and gloom about it, there are some surprisingly sophisticated scams in operation, as well as scams that are successful because of their simplicity.
So, what are the most common scams and how can you protect yourself or your business from fraud and #besafeonline?
The purpose of a phone scam is usually to trick you into revealing your personal details, taking money from your bank account or even persuading you to unknowingly transfer cash to a fake account.
Common scams include calls claiming to be from Microsoft Windows, telling you that your computer has a virus and that they need your credit card details to verify your identity, to those claiming to be from your bank or even the police. It’s also common to receive calls from people falsely claiming be represent a fraud detection service – a genuine service will never request your card information when they call you.
If you run a business, keep an eye out for anyone who might be impersonating your suppliers or customers, especially if they’re asking you to make a payment or change who a payment should go to. If you have dealt with the person or business before, you should have their contact details and can use those already in your system to check whether the request has been made with their knowledge.
To protect your personal details or business accounts from phone scams, it’s wise to make sure that confidential information, passcodes, card details and so on are never passed on to unsolicited callers, even if you think they might be genuine. Instead, take the name of the caller and the company they represent and then check for their contact details online rather than trusting the number they give you.
Another tip is to enter the number of the caller in Google and see what other people are saying about it. Has anyone reported the phone number in connection to a scam?
Many people fall victim to phone scams because they’re worried about seeming impolite or untrusting. A genuine caller is unlikely to be offended about you double-checking their authenticity, and a healthy degree of scepticism can protect you.
Remember that your bank or the police will never phone you to ask for your confidential information, or ask you to make a purchase. Nor will they ask you for your PIN, PIN Sentry, passcode or passwords if they’ve phoned you.
Missed call scams
This is a particular type of phone scam where you receive a missed call from a number that either looks like a genuine – albeit unrecognised – mobile number or even a landline number with your local area code. When people call these numbers back, assuming they’re from someone they know, they are unwittingly diverted to a premium rate service, which may cost you up to £15 per call.
To protect yourself from unnecessary call charges, we would always advise you against calling back an unknown number unless the caller leaves a message to explain the purpose of their call, e.g. a potential customer making an enquiry.
Recorded message scams
Another common scam is when you receive a recorded message telling you that you have been selected to win a prize and that all you need to do to claim it is to call the given (premium rate) number. After many minutes on the phone listening to a long-winded message, you may discover that your prize is simply a ring tone or something equally low value, and far lower than the value of the call you’ve just made to claim it.
Since nearly everyone has a mobile phone, no matter how basic, text scams are a very current problem. They usually come in the form of an unsolicited text message claiming to be from your bank or similar institution. The text may ask you to call a given number, click on a link or verify your security details. Many people get caught out by these scams, assuming that the organisation as found a fast and convenient way to communicate with them.
Thanks to fairly widely available technology, it’s possible for scammers to make it appear as though their text comes through official channels while hiding the true identity of the sender.
These text scams might try to trick you into making phone calls or sending texts to premium services, or even into unknowingly signing up to an expensive subscription. One scam is worded as though it’s from a friend, e.g. “Hi. It’s John here. How are you?” Assuming it’s a text accidentally sent to the wrong number, people often kind-heartedly call or text back to tell the sender they haven’t reached who they think, only to receive premium rate charges.
You can protect yourself from text fraud in a number of ways:
- Don’t reply to unsolicited texts
- Do not follow links in an unsolicited text
- Do not call a number given in an unsolicited text
- Check the sender’s number in Google for scam reports
- Never send confidential information by text
- Know that your bank will never send texts that link to your online banking log-in page
Like many of the scams above, the majority of email scams are focused on tricking you into handing over money or revealing your personal details. We covered email scams in more detail in a recent blog – Why sensible browsing may not be enough to protect your business from Malware – and looked at the main types of email scams and how you can protect your business from falling victim.
It’s important to be vigilant when responding to unsolicited emails, even if they look official. Your bank, for example, may email you with news and information about their services, but they should never ask you to send personal details or include a link back to your personal banking login page.
We would always recommend that you exercise caution when it comes to opening links or attached documents from unsolicited emails as these are often how viruses enter your computer or network. Even an ‘unsubscribe’ link on an unsolicited email can be there to trick you into clicking.
If you do go to a website, either via a search or through a link in an email from a trusted source, always check whether the website is secure before you enter any confidential information or financial details. You can do this by looking for the padlock or unbroken key icon next to the address bar and also checking whether the web address begins with ‘https’ rather than ‘http’.
One of the most proactive things you can do to protect your home or business computers from email scams is to install anti-virus software, such as AVG, on your system.
If you use a smartphone, you can be vulnerable to phone, text and email scams. To protect yourself, we would strongly recommend that you install anti-virus software on your smart phone in the same way as you would your computer.
Here at One Source Communications, we use AVG mobile protection for smartphones and tablets because it can:
- Find and protect your mobile devices if lost or stolen
- Keep your most precious, most personal device safe
- Preserve your privacy
- Backup your apps
- Conserve resources and eliminate slowdowns
Need expert advice about how you and your business can #besafeonline? Give us a call on 08442 570 111 and we can help you find the right solutions.