In our last blog, we talked you through some of the ways scammers try to make you part with your money. In our second blog, we explore some of the top online scams to keep an eye out for.
Remember: If you know of someone who would find this information useful, then please share it. The more people we reach, the more likely it is we can stop someone we care about being scammed.
HMRC is a popular topic for scammers. This is no doubt partially due to the fact that many of us believe we are due tax rebates, claim some form of benefit or are in receipt of a state pension. Given all of this, when an e-mail pertaining to be from HMRC does land in our inbox, we may be inclined to believe it is genuine. However, as the head of digital security at HMRC, Gareth Lloyd, explains- HMRC never contacts people due tax refunds via e-mail. Any emails you do receive should be forwarded onto firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found here
This is a very distressing but increasingly common scam. Individuals receive an email from a scammer. The email states that the scammer has installed software onto your computer that has detected you have been watching porn. It goes on to say that it has photographic and/or video evidence of you visiting porn sites. It demands for a payment to be made, usually in the form of Bitcoin. The e-mail may also contain information that makes you believe it must be genuine- such as old passwords you have used, information on family members etc. This e-mail is a complete scam. Delete the email. DO NOT click on any information in it and DO NOT reply to it. The ‘personal’ information included in the e-mail has been obtained by them through the purchase of ‘information lists’. These lists, which include details such as passwords, dates of birth etc, are sold from scammers to scammers after any of your email addresses or online accounts have been subject to a data breach. You can check if your e-mail address has been ‘pwned’ (the term used to describe this practise) here. https://haveibeenpwned.com
This type of scam email works because it makes the recipient feel guilty. Even if you have been viewing pornography, as long as it is legal, then legally you have done nothing wrong. Don’t let guilt or the scaremongering of these scammers scare you into parting with your money.
In our opinion, this is the most malicious and upsetting scam of all. This scam involves you receiving an email or message on social media from an individual posing as a family member. The message will inform you that they are in trouble and need you to send them money in order to help them out. The message may state that they are trapped in a foreign country, have been arrested or are facing bailiffs or bankruptcy. The most upsetting part of this scam is that scammers will ‘ape’ the language you use to talk to each other. By scanning through conversations, they can use words or phrases that you may using when talking to each other- something which may make you believe it is genuine. The email will often also swear you to secrecy- begging you not to tell anybody else about their predicament. As distressing as it is, this is a scam. Delete the email. Call your friend or family member directly on a number you know belongs to them.
With all e-mail and online scams, we recommend you change your passwords as a precaution after receiving one. If you struggle with how to do this, ask a trusted family member for help.
We hope you’ve found this information useful. Please share and help put an end to innocent individuals being scammed.