Spotting Red Flags – Ensuring you remain secure online

As more people rely on technology to as part of their everyday lives, cyber criminals continue to find new weaknesses and exploitations to carry out fraudulent activity.

As more people rely on technology to as part of their everyday lives, cyber criminals continue to find new weaknesses and exploitations to carry out fraudulent activity. In the first six months of 2021, over £1billion pounds from UK businesses and individuals was lost to fraud and cybercrime. This might seem intimidating but remaining secure online can be made easier if you are able to spot some “red flags” of cybercrime. Join us as we discuss some of the more common and recent threats to look out for in 2022.

  • COVID-19 phishing emails

    The well-known consumer protection organisation “Which?” recently published two samples of phishing emails, pretending to be from the NHS with a warning about the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Within these fraudulent emails, recipients were offered a “free” Omicron PCR test, which allegedly would help them to circumvent government restrictions.

    Upon clicking on a link within this email, recipients were asked for personal details and a small payment for delivery of test and results. The overall purpose of the email was to harvest personal and payment details of the victims. The moral of this story, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is”. If you are ever in receipt of an e-mail from the NHS, always contact your local GP surgery or health centre to verify that information you have received it legitimate.

  • Be aware of online quizzes

    Have you ever taken an online quiz or survey before? It’s common to find links to quizzes and surveys through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Although these are often harmless, it’s always best to approach these with caution. If a website that you do not recognise begins to ask you for personal information, for instance, your full name, date of birth and address, it’s always wise to leave this website. Scammers and online fraudsters often find creative ways of harvesting personal information, and this is one of the biggest red flags to look out for.

  • Watch out for fake postal service text messages

    There are several fake postal service text messages circulating as of recent, there are deceptive messages claiming to be Royal Mail that seem to be particularly popular. The technique that is often employed by these fraudsters is to lure people into paying a “fee” for redelivery of a parcel or letter.

    Unfortunately, this is a cleverly disguised scam, with the goal of getting the victims bank details. It is always worth ignoring these messages. Instead, consider visiting or calling your local post office or delivery office to find out if they have your parcel or letter.

  • Receiving unexpected phone calls?

    If you receive an unexpected phone call from an unknown number, this is an immediate red flag and this should be treated with caution. If this happens to you, it’s always best to verify who you are speaking with before proceeding with the call. In many instances, the call may be a legitimate, but being aware of the threat that could be posed by unknown callers can help you to avoid heartache later down the line. As a rule of thumb, never provide personal or confidential information over the telephone until you are confident that you are speaking to the right person. Action Fraud UK suggest the following simple steps:

    • Stop – Take a moment to stop and think.
    • Challenge – Could this be a fake call? Reject, refuse, or ignore any requests if you think that could be the case.
    • Protect – If you think you have fallen victim, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud.

Prepare for the future

It’s important to be able to spot the common red flags when you are online. Falling victim to financial fraud can have a negative impact on your financial resilience. You can find more information by visiting the Action Fraud website via: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/individual-protection

  • The information provided in this article is for guidance and educational purposes only. Police Credit Union Ltd. does not offer regulated financial advice. Please seek independent financial advice.

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