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Avoiding Scammers in the Digital Age
Avoiding Scammers in the Digital Age

In the world we know and live in, the sophistication of technology is growing by the minute. So too are the demographics targeted by scammers, however, as well as their potentiality for success.

Scammers are showing an increasing preference for online fraud, as opposed to fraud committed by post or face-to-face, as this allows them to target their victims remotely- even from other countries!

 

Did you know that fraud is the most commonly experienced crime in the UK?

The hard reality is that anyone can fall victim to scams, and the results can be devastating, both financially and psychologically, for individuals and businesses alike.

Yet, if you can identify some fool-proof tactics for recognising bogus contact, then you can take control of the situation, instead of leaving your likelihood of being scammed down to chance alone.

 

Phishing and Other Types of Scams

‘Phishing’ refers to the fraudulent sending of emails imitating reputable organisations, with the goal of extracting sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and passwords.

If enough of your data is collected, then this can be traded by the scammer, and used for the purposes of identity theft.

Phishing emails often appear genuine by spoofing an email address or changing the ‘display name’, so take extra caution when determining the origin of any email that you receive.

Scammers may also make contact via phone call, text message or social media.

If you are unsure and need guidance, then we at Gow & Partners encourage you contact our team on 01254 589799.

 

COVID-19 Fraudsters

Amid these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that we are conscious of potential scams. The sad fact is, there have already been numerous instances of fraudsters taking advantage of the current pandemic.

One major example identified by HMRC is a recent phishing campaign, which claims that customers are entitled to a tax refund to help protect themselves from the Coronavirus.

HMRC have also identified bogus texts concerning ‘goodwill payments’ and fines for leaving your home more than once a day.

 

Facts to remember about HMRC:

  1. HMRC will never send notifications via email about tax rebates or refunds.
  2. HMRC will never ask for personal information via text message.
  3. HMRC will never contact you via WhatsApp.
  4. HMRC will never use social media to offer a tax rebate or request personal/financial information.

 

If you receive any of the above contact, then you can be certain that it is definitely an instance of fraud.

 

If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t…

If you have even the slightest suspicion that you have received bogus contact from someone claiming to be HMRC, or any other reputable organisation, then it is vital that you do not carry out the requested action.

In relation to phishing- never open any attachments or click on any links, as this could contain malicious software, or redirect you to a bogus website that can look almost identical to that of the organisation the scammer intends to imitate.

Scammers rely on the evocation of fear in achieving their fraudulent end. For instance, HMRC have become aware of a fraudulent automated phone call, which will claim that they are filing a law suit against you, before requesting that you press 1 to speak to a caseworker and make a payment.

In relation to phone calls- if you cannot verify the identity of the caller, then do not speak with them.

Ultimately, you can take the power away from scammers through staying calm and thinking rationally, so always refrain from acting impulsively.

 

Fighting back against scammers

When you have identified a potential phishing email, you should forward the email to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and delete the content immediately.

If you have fallen victim to a scam and have suffered financial loss as a consequence, then visit Action Fraud  to report the fraud and seek help and guidance.