Internet Crime continues to rise - Don't be a victim!

The deluge of scam emails continues without pause. Here are some new examples:

DPD scam - if you receive an email or a note through the door saying that DPD or some other courier has tried to deliver a parcel twice and requires payment from you before making another attempt.  This is a criminal attempt to steal your money. Ignore it!

There are many more scams out there, so be alert and remember:

Scam messages will not be addressed to you personally but to Dear Customer or similar.  The from address will not look right, and there are likely to be grammar and spelling error

If you receive an email from an unknown sender, do not reply or open any link or attachment without checking very carefully. 

If the email is from someone you know but contains a link, again do not open it unless you are sure it is genuine.  If it is not addressed to you by name, do not trust it.  Check with the sender.

The banks say they will never phone you and ask you to transfer money. If you do get a call purporting to be from your bank, hang up and phone the bank (use the number on the back of your bank card not one the caller givers you) to check. Make absolutely sure you have a dialling tone before dialling the bank.  It is not unknown for the scammer to keep the line open so you just get straight back to them.

Never give anyone you do not know control over your computer.  If you are having problems, contact a friend or reputable repairer for help.

There is a lot more detail and advice and help in the Neighbourhood Alert here, and in the Scam Busting menu section, where you will also find guidance on avoiding possible NHS Test and Trace scams.

f you have received an email which you’re unsure about, you can report it by forwarding it to report@phishing.gov.uk. You can report suspicious text messages by forwarding them to 7726.

The following are examples of some of the other common frauds based on advice from  Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for for fraud and cyber crime.

Courier Fraud

Courier fraud is where fraudsters call someone, pretending to be a police officer or bank official, warning that there are corrupt bank staff, intent on stealing their money, and ask for their help.  Typically, the caller then tells the victim to withdraw a sum of money and a courier is sent to collect it.

Commander Karen Baxter, City of London Police, National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime, said:

“This is a despicable crime in which fraudsters specifically target older people, by exploiting their trust in the police and their bank, to bleed them dry.  Courier fraudsters are nearly always part of broader criminal gangs: they are persuasive and can be aggressive. This can be particularly intimidating when they turn up on a victim’s doorstep. 

“In the past two years, there have been reports of over 3,000 victims of courier fraud and those numbers

include a sharp rise in the last three months.  We know that victims lost over £12 million in this period, but we also know that it’s a grossly under-reported crime.  That’s why we have focused on tackling this contemptible crime with a drive on awareness raising and increased enforcement.

Tax Fraud

Scammers are increasingly targeting vulnerable or elderly people and those with less familiarity with the tax system, such as young adults.

During April and May, fraudsters regularly blitz taxpayers with refund scams by email or text pretending to be HMRC. Criminals do this to coincide with legitimate rebates being processed by HMRC.

They will encourage people to provide bank details, in exchange for a payment worth hundreds of pounds, on a fake government website to harvest private information and steal money. HMRC will never ask someone to provide bank details by text or email.

Last Spring alone, HMRC received around 250,000 reports of tax scams — which is nearly 2,500 a day — and requested that over 6,000 phishing websites be deactivated.

These criminals will contact victims in many ways including spoofed calls, voicemails and text messages.

People should spot the signs of fraud and be wary of emails with attachments which might contain viruses designed to obtain personal or financial information.

The offer of a tax rebate might sound tempting, but don’t let the criminals hoodwink you into giving away your details or your cash. If you’re worried that you might have given away any of your information, then contact your bank straight away.

Pension Fraud

Scammers usually contact people out of the blue via phone, email or text, or even advertise online. Or they may be introduced to you by a friend or family member who is also unknowingly being scammed.

Scammers will make false claims to gain your trust. For example:

  • claiming they are authorised by the FCA or that they don’t have to be FCA authorised because they aren’t providing the advice themselves

  • claiming to be acting on the behalf of the FCA or the government service Pension Wise.

 

Scammers design attractive offers to persuade you to transfer your pension pot to them (or to release funds from it). It is then often invested in unusual and high-risk investments like overseas property, renewable energy bonds, forestry, storage units, or simply stolen outright.

 

Scam offers often include:

  • free pension reviews

  • higher returns – guarantees they can get you better returns on your pension savings

  • help to release cash from your pension even though you’re under 55 (an offer to release funds before age 55 is highly likely to be a scam)

  • high-pressure sales tactics – the scammers may try to pressure you with ‘time-limited offers’ or even send a courier to your door to wait while you sign documents

  • unusual investments – which tend to be unregulated and high risk, and may be difficult to sell if you need access to your money

  • complicated structures where it isn’t clear where your money will end up

  • arrangements where there are several parties involved (some of which may be based overseas) all taking a fee, which means that the total amount deducted from your pension is significant

  • long-term pension investments – which mean it could be several years before you realise something is wrong

Protect yourself - reject unexpected offers

If you’re contacted out of the blue about a pension opportunity, chances are it’s high risk or a scam.

If you get a cold call about your pension, the safest thing to do is to hang up- it’s illegal and probably a scam.


Advice from Action Fraud on Email Hacking

 

Over 15,000 hacked email and social media accounts reported in one year.

Your email and social media accounts contain a wealth of personal information about you, which makes them a lucrative target for cyber criminals. Between February 2020 and February 2021, Action Fraud received 15,214 reports about email and social media account hacking. The majority of reports (88%) were made by individuals, with 12% of reports being made by businesses. Analysis of the crime reports revealed that Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat were the most affected social media accounts, with phishing messages being the most common tactic used by cyber criminals to lure unsuspecting victims.

The motivation behind the hacks are varied and can range from financial gain, to revenge or personal amusement. Some victims are extorted for money, whilst others have their accounts used to send malicious links to their contacts. One victim who had multiple email and social media accounts hacked paid over £2,000 to regain access to them. Another victim reported that her hacked Facebook account was used to trick her friends into sending money into a PayPal account they thought belonged to her.



Secure your email and social media accounts in just a few minutes. Here's what you need to do:

1: Use a strong and separate password for your email, as well as other important accounts, such as  your banking or social media accounts.

2: Enable two-factor authentication (2FA). It will help to stop hackers from getting into your online accounts, even if they have your password.

3: If you can't access your account, search the company's online support or help pages. You'll find information about how to recover your account.

For detailed instructions on how to reset your password or enable 2FA on your accounts, visit:
https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/secureyouraccounts

Information from Neighbourhood Watch on Covid related scams is here.

There is yet more vital information on keeping safe online here.