Money Box: Man discusses how he became victim of a scam
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Consumers in the UK have been warned about a new scam which involves fake marketing surveys promising gift cards of up to £100 for filling them out. Which? warned fraudsters began impersonating Sainsbury’s in June but since then, other supermarket chains have been jumped on by scammers.
What to do
Tony Pepper, CEO of cybersecurity firm Egress, responded to the unfortunate news and provided guidance on what consumers should look out for.
“Once again, cybercriminals are imitating some of Britain’s best-known brands to try to trick ordinary people out of their sensitive data,” he said.
“Scammers are cruelly taking advantage of consumers’ fears around the increasing cost of living, promising sums of up to £100 to spend at the supermarket.
“Cybercriminals have become skilled at crafting highly convincing emails that appear to be from well-known brands, and for many people these scams are almost impossible to spot. Don’t be fooled by convincing branding – we’d urge anyone who has received an email offering a cash reward for filling out a survey to double check the legitimacy of the survey with the supermarket in question before handing over their information.
“We advise consumers to remain highly cautious, hover over links before clicking and always check the email domain of the sender to see if it’s legitimate.
“If you have any suspicions that an email might be a scam, always reach out to the brand through their website or on the phone. If you think you’ve received a suspicious email, you can report it to the National Cyber Security Center using email@example.com.”
Unfortunately, scams of this nature continue to be a problem for savers across the board. This week, Metro Bank confirmed “spoofing scams” were its “scam of the month.”
Spoofing is the act of disguising a communication, so that it appears to be from a known trusted source, but is designed to enable a scammer to defraud a consumer.
Metro Bank warned spoofing takes place in various forms and can apply to websites, emails, phone calls and text messages. Spoofing can sometimes be easy to spot, but not always as fraudsters are carrying out more sophisticated spoofing attacks which require vigilance.
Adam Speakman, head of fraud and investigations at Metro Bank explained being aware of different spoofing methods and their signs can help people avoid being a victim.
“With a rise in both authorised push payment scams and card scams – it is important that customers are extra vigilant about the contact they are receiving,” he said.
“Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police so it can be difficult to spot scam texts, emails and phone calls.”
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How to spot spoofing
Mr Speakman went on to highlight how the four main types of spoofing can be spotted and stopped:
- Email spoofing: The spoofer sends out emails with a falsified “From:” line to try to trick victims into believing that the message is from a legitimate source. Any email that asks for your password, or any other personal information could be a trick.
- Text Message spoofing: Like email spoofing, a text message may appear to come from a legitimate source. It may request that you call a certain phone number or click on a link within the message, with the goal of getting you to part with personal or confidential information.
- Website spoofing: Here a website is designed to mimic an existing site known and/or trusted by the user. Fraudsters use these sites to gain login and other personal information from users.
- Phone number spoofing: Fraudsters falsify phone numbers from which they are calling in hope of getting you to take their call. On your caller ID, it might appear that the call is coming from a legitimate business or Government agency.
To protect oneself from these types of scams, people should:
- Examine all communications, look out for poor spelling, incorrect or inconsistent grammar – these errors are often indicators of spoofing.
- Double-check the URL address of a website or the email sender address.
- Be alert to and do not click on links and attachments in unexpected text messages or emails.
- Use a different form of communication to confirm that the information you received is legitimate – e.g. if you receive a request/invoice via text or email, call the company or individual to confirm.
- Do not take phone calls at face value; be wary of callers requesting personal information.
- Do not be rushed into making a decision, if something doesn’t seem right, hang up and call back using a number you know to be legitimate.
- Do not respond to requests for money or important personal information such as bank details or passwords.
Coronavirus makes things worse
The pandemic has unfortunately provided fraudsters with new opportunities to target savers. In late September, trade body UK Finance detailed the pandemic “has seen an evolution in fraud as criminals continuously look for new ways to target potential victims.”
It warned the scale of the problem “is only growing, despite the efforts of the banking and finance industry.”
In the first half of this year, criminals stole a total of £753.9million through fraud, an increase of over a quarter (30 percent) compared to H1 2020.
UK Finance explained in the first half of 2021, criminals focused their activity on authorised push payment (APP) fraud, where the customer is tricked into authorising a payment to an account controlled by a criminal.
Using tactics such as scam phone calls, text messages and emails, as well as fake websites and social media posts, criminals seek to trick people into handing over personal details and passwords. This information is then used to target victims and convince them to authorise payments.
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