Over the last few years, technology has evolved so much that not only can we access our bank accounts and online services with the simple click of a button, but we also have full control of our finances and investments remotely too.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals are matching the pace of this rapidly developing technology and creating even more sophisticated and legitimate looking scams designed to strip bank accounts and steal personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims.
To help keep you and your finances safe,Victoria Johnson, BT’s Digital Impact and Sustainability Director, shares five tips on spotting and avoiding the most common online scams.
Victoria explains that there are three particular scams that affect millions of consumers:
- Phishing: a scam usually taking the form of an email that tries to trick you into giving away personal information or bank details
- Smishing : text messages that trick you into giving away information including personal or financial details
- Vishing: phone calls designed to scare you into responding by conveying a sense of urgency
“All of the above are examples of a wider online threat known as social engineering – the manipulation of people into performing actions or giving away confidential information,” Victoria said.
Five tips for spotting scams
Have you ever received a call, email or text informing you that a service you rely on is about to be cut off and that urgent action is required?
The aim is to get you to act quickly, without thinking about what might happen if you click the link, open the attachment or give away personal information. Stop and think before you act.
Out of the blue
Scammers tend to send thousands of emails in the hope of catching someone off guard.
If you receive an unexpected email relating to finance, shopping, discarded online baskets, or asking you to confirm your personal information – delete it immediately as it’s probably a scam.
Too good to be true
Scammers may use the temptation of a prize to get you to engage with them over text, email or even a phone call. They might want you to click a link or give away personal information. Be cautious, because if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
Almost all phishing attempts will claim to be from a trusted source, such as a friend, colleague, government agency or company.
If it asks you to do something unexpected, such as transferring money or buying a gift card for a friend, don’t click on the link as it could be a fraudster.
If you feel unsure, use a different method to contact them. Call them directly from another phone or find contact details from a website you trust.
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Asking for access
Sometimes technical requests that ask to access devices or accounts remotely can seem legitimate.
If you’re having problems logging in or getting something to work, having an expert pop-up and ask to access it through remote software would appear to make sense.
However, it’s very unlikely that a company would ever need your log-in details or to access your accounts and devices in order to support customer requests.
Be wary of anyone asking for remote access and if you’re in any doubt, don’t allow access to your device or give away any personal information.
To test your knowledge of scams and help ensure you stay safe online, try this free online training game from BT: www.bt.com/skillsfortomorrow/home-life/staying-safe-online
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