Avoiding the Scammers

If you are monitoring your personal email on a computer also being used for working from home, then this may open an opportunity for scammers and other lowlife to attack your computer or data.

To be completely safe the rules are very simple. Unless you know who an email has come from AND you were expecting to receive an email from that person –

  • Do not open attachments sent with an email message
  • NEVER click on links contained within an email
  • Do not click on a link to a file sent to you from Office 365, Google Drive, or Dropbox

Scammers will spoof the email address of people you know (i.e. they make an email appear as if it has come from someone in your contact list). They will pretend to be from the Inland Revenue, or from Paypal, or Amazon etc. etc. If you suspect you have received a scam email from an organisation you know but you need to be sure, then do NOT click on links in the email but instead, login to the organisation’s website using the method you would normally use.

Typical “phishing” message – note the deadline to encourage you to act fast

If you receive ANY email from anyone that invites you to click on a link to “verify your identity” or to “update your account details” or “check your account activity” etc. etc. then do NOT click on the link.

If you receive an email telling you that someone has sent you a file that you can download from Dropbox, Google Drive or Office 365 by clicking on the link – do NOT click on the link.

If you receive an email with an attachment (usually a Word Doc or PDF) that claims to be an invoice or remittance advice from someone you don’t recognise – do NOT open the attachment.

Instead, check the email closely. There will usually be clues that it is a scam. There may be spelling or grammar mistakes (most scammers are not English speakers). Most genuine organisations will not contact you in this way. But if you are in any doubt, close the email then contact that organisation using the method you would normally use i.e. go to their website directly (not using the link), or open their app, or call them.

Another “phishing” email trying to pressure you into acting quickly to resolve an “issue”

Scammers may well know where you live – your address may be readily available on legitimate lists on the internet . They may have had access to your old passwords through website security breaches from the past (e.g. historical hacks into Facebook, Yahoo etc.) and be able to show you that password in their email to you. But that does NOT mean they have a video of you watching porn ! They are lying to scare you into making contact with them. Delete their messages and forget about it.

Do not download “freeware” (or free videos/music) unless you can trust the source 100%. Freeware is often free in order to attract you to download it, install it and also inadvertently install the malware that comes with it.

Finally, remember that just because something is listed in a Google search does NOT mean it is safe.

Scam Telephone Calls

If you have a landline telephone and are not generally at home during the day then you may be surprised by the number of scam telephone calls that you receive.

Follow these rules to minimise any problems with scam callers –

  • Microsoft will NEVER call you and the “Windows Technical Desk” does not exist
  • It is very unlikely that BT, TalkTalk, or Sky will ever call YOU about your service – it’s hard enough for you to get through to them
  • Any recorded message informing you of some “account problem” or that your “Amazon Prime account has been suspended ” will be a scam
  • Even if you have been involved in an accident recently, no one that is worth speaking to will call you about this

If you are not sure about a call but have to answer the phone anyway, then pick up the phone but do not speak immediately. Wait a few seconds. A genuine caller will talk at once but scammers commonly use computer-controlled diallers that wait until you reply before connecting you to a scam caller. If you don’t speak the dialler will hangup after a few seconds.

If you are not sure if a call is from a genuine organisation then simply hang up. Pause for thought. Make yourself a cup of tea or wait 10 minutes, then call the real organisation back using the number that you normally use to contact them and ask if they have been trying to contact you.

Don’t call back immediately. Sometimes a scammer will stay on the line for a minute after you hang up and may be able to intercept your immediate call. And never call back on any number that is suggested to you by the scammer – it will be a fake number that will connect you to another scammer.

Author: Plus1Support

Owner of Plus 1 Computing - IT services for businesses and home users

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