Online fraud is on the rise and we’re all at risk…
You’re too smart to be caught out by a scam, right? We probably all think it could never happen to us, but the fact is online fraud is on the rise – affecting millions of people around the world – and costing economies billions.
In fact, nearly £11billion was lost to the UK economy as a result of fraud, including cybercrime, in 2015/16, according to Action Fraud and Get Safe Online.
It costs the Indian economy more than $4billion a year, and America more than $30 billion. The total global cost of cybercrime was estimated between $375billion and $575billion, according to a World Bank 2016 report.
Of course there are some classic scams, like everyone’s favourite, the Nigerian prince with $10million he needs to transfer to your account (aka the 419 scam). But recently some have popped up on the likes of Amazon, WhatsApp and PayPal.
An email from Amazon is pretty standard for millions of us, but Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre, has received reports from victims who have been sent ‘convincing-looking’ phishing claiming to be from the online super-retailer.
The email thanks you for your order and goes on to say that if you haven’t authorised the transaction you should click on a link to get a full refund… which is where the problem starts. The link takes you to an extremely legitimate-looking website which asks for your name, address and bank card details. Then bam! The scammers have got all they need to go on a spending spree.
According to Amazon: “The best way to ensure that you do not respond to a false or phishing e-mail is to always go directly to your account on Amazon to review or make any changes to your orders or your account.”
You can report dodgy Amazon emails to email@example.com.
This cheeky little number warns of “unusual activity on your PayPal account” and advises you to click on the link to “resolve a limitation on your account”. You’re then asked to log into your account and confirm your details and answer security questions. Then, guess what? Yep, they’ve got you again… Fear not, PayPal offers advice on how to spot a fake email.
But it’s not just emails that can catch you out. Nowadays you’ve even got to be wary when you receive instant messages.
More than one billion people use WhatsApp each month and that means a stack of potential victims for scammer. Just a 1% success rate means some serious money for those behind the scams.
One of the latest scams offers gift cards for popular supermarket chain Sainsbury’s. The victim receives a message that looks like it’s from a genuine contact in your phone, telling you that Sainsbury’s is giving away £100 gift cards to celebrate new stores opening. Nice. The link in the message looks real enough, but click on it you could end up downloading malware onto your phone, allowing scammers to steal your personal details and your identity.
Worried? Follow WhatsApp’s advice for staying safe whilst using their messaging service
Making online safety part your everyday routine
Action Fraud has created this handy check-list to help keep you safe from the internet’s conmen – and woman.
• Review the passwords you use on your online accounts: Make sure they’re strong enough and that you’re not using the same ones for more than one account. Consider how you’re going to remember them all – such as using an online password safe.
• Check your social media privacy settings. Make sure your information and updates are seen only by those you trust.
• Update your operating system and software programs/apps on your computer, mobile phone and tablet if you’ve been prompted to do so. It takes only a few minutes and with your mobile devices, you can even do it while you’re asleep.
• Back up your information – using the cloud is a great way to save all your documents, photos, music, emails and other irreplaceable files.
• Check that your internet security software and apps are up to date and switched on.
• If you have children, think about whether you’re doing enough to help ensure they’re staying safe online.
• If you’ve lost money, it’s very important that you report it. Wherever you live, if you’re a victim of online abuse or harassment, you should report it to your local police force.