Welcome to this our Newsletter for September 2018. In it, because of its really considerable importance, we are concentrating on the subject of cons and scams, and particularly cyber-crime. It is said that everyone in the country has either experienced a crime of this type or they know someone who has become a victim, hence this reference to its considerable importance. We have held a total of 8 public meetings on this subject in the last 18 months.
SCAMS, DOORSTEP CRIME AND ROGUE TRADERS
It is estimated that UK consumers lose up to £3.5 billion per year to a variety of scams that exploit low-cost, mass-marketing techniques to target recipients. Scams include telephone, email, postal and doorstep. These include bogus prize draws and lotteries, scam emails impersonating your bank, government tax office or individual companies like Apple and PayPal.
Complaints are also received from consumers who are cold called by unscrupulous traders offering their services on the doorstep. The work is often badly done and overpriced. Do NOT pay before work has been completed, always obtain an agreement in writing and do not reveal confidential details that a fraudster could use to assume your identity to take control of your finances. There are strong indications that the actual number of people affected by scams is far greater than the reported figures.
Wikipedia defines ‘Cybercrime’ (or Computer crime) as any crime that involves a computer and a network. (Source: Wikipedia) These days, ‘Computer’ can mean a desktop PC, laptop, tablet or Smartphone, and ‘Network’ can be either the Internet or the mobile telephone network, especially WiFi ‘hotpots’ which are insecure..
There are essentially two forms of Cybercrime:
Cyber-dependent crimes: These can only be committed using computers, computer networks or other forms of Information & Communication Technology (ICT). They include the creation and spread of malware for financial gain, hacking to steal important personal or industrial data and denial of service attacks (DoS). The malicious use of social media to carry out personal harassment and online bullying is a pernicious form of cybercrime. Even watching a pirate copy of a film online is a form of cybercrime, as it is depriving the legitimate film industry of revenue.
Cyber-enabled crimes: These include fraud (cons and scams), the purchasing and distribution of illegal drugs and other restricted articles such as guns and knives, and child exploitation, and can be conducted on- or offline. It is thought that around 80% of cases of internet fraud could be avoided if people took some simple steps to protect themselves while online.
Simple steps to stay safe online
Fraud affects one in four small businesses, with fraud losses to businesses estimated at £8bn nationally.
Latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW – March 2017) estimate that 3.4 million cases of fraud were reported for the year, with 1.9 million cases being cyber-related. However, the CSEW estimates that only 17% of individuals affected by fraud report to the police or Action Fraud.
- Use a strong password to keep your details safe. This should contain upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
- Never give your personal banking details out online. Banks and companies will never ask for sensitive information via email or phone.
- Make sure you are using up-to-date internet security, including on your mobile phone.
- Ensure you have installed the latest operating system
- Edit your privacy settings on social media and make sure only your friends can see your updates and information. (Source: Thames Valley Police)
- This organisation has been set up by the Home Office in collaboration with HSBC, Microsoft and other partners to provide a wealth of information about staying safe online.
- Get Safe Online (https://www.getsafeonline.org/ )
Phishing (email and Internet scams) Phoney emails appearing to be from a trusted source, or deceptive web links are used to persuade you to divulge important information about yourself and your financial activities. This information can then be used to access your bank or credit card accounts and relieve you of your money either directly, or by setting up transactions in your name.
Vishing (scam telephone calls): The fraudster calls you and pretends to be from your bank – or impersonates an authority figure such as a policeman.
You are told your account has been compromised and that you need to transfer your cash to a new account which is actually the fraudsters.
The fraudster tells you to call the number on your bank card but stays on the line when you hang up. If you don’t check for a dialling tone they then pretend to be the bank and take your money.
Another example they may use is stating your computer’s IP address is at risk/being compromised. Please ignore these calls.
Smishing (scam text messages): This method of fraud targets online banking. The fraudster uses a cheap bit of technology that means they can impersonate your bank’s number.
They ask for your online banking passwords or codes and trick you in to giving them what they need to access your account. Then they get you to transfer money or take it themselves.
Courier fraud: This kind of fraud works in the same way as vishing, only the fraudster tells you that they will send a courier to collect your bank card after getting your details.
How to spot a scam email Emails to be wary of include spelling mistakes which are a common tell-tale sign of a fraudulent email.
Be suspicious of any emails and pop-up windows asking you to click on a link or provide personal information directly in response.
A genuine email will only ever address you by your full name at the beginning – anything that starts ‘Dear customer’ should immediately raise your suspicions.
Do not reply, click on links or open any attachments that arrive with the email.
Check the email address – if you hover the mouse cursor over the sender’s address, the full email address will be displayed. For instance, you may receive an email showing it’s from Apple Support. Once you hover or click on the email address, it will state something like email@example.com – a genuine Apple email would be firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t forget the golden rule – no bank will ever call to ask you to hand over your personal passwords or details – and they’ll never ask you to transfer money out either.
Be sceptical, think before you click and if you think you’ve been tricked get in touch with the business/bank as soon as possible and please report to the police on 101 and to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040); by email to NFIBPhishing@city-of-london.pnn.police.uk or using the online reporting tool at the Action Fraud website (https://actionfraud.police.uk/report-a-fraud/how-to-report-a-fraud)