How To Spot And Stop Scam Emails, Messages And Calls.

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Most of our daily communication activities now are carried out through the internet. In today’s world, we live and work online.

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At no fault of ours, the internet unfortunately is infiltrated with criminals attempting to steal from us, through what is called phishing; when criminals use scam emails, text messages or phone calls to trick their victims. The aim is often to make you visit a website, which may download a virus onto your computer, or steal bank details or other personal information.

Whether it’s for banking to shopping, crypto trading to digital asset wallets and streaming to social media, people are spending more time than ever online.

This means more avenues for hackers to carry out cyber attacks. They usually do this by targeting people and businesses using:

  • email , SMS, Calls and website scams
  • malware – software that can damage your device or let a hacker in

If hackers get into your device or accounts, they could access your money, your personal information, or information about your business.

Identifying Online Scam

Cyber criminals may contact you via email, text, phone call or via social media. They will often pretend to be someone (or an organisation) you trust.

It used to be easier to spot scams. They might contain bad spelling or grammar, come from an unusual email address, or feature imagery or design that feels ‘off’. But scams are getting smarter and some even fool the experts. They may try to phishing your correspondence email address by replacing Capital letter ” I” with Small Letter ” l “. You have to cross check properly the original email and any suspicious email with a similar looking email address for these discrepancies that are easy to miss.

Scammers try to quickly gain your trust. They aim to pressure you into acting without thinking.

If a message or call makes you suspicious, stop and consider the language it uses. Scams often feature one or more of these give away signs. The National Cyber Security Centre has listed this signs as what you should be weary of.

Authority: Is the message claiming to be from someone official? For example, your bank, doctor, a solicitor, or a government department. Criminals often pretend to be important people or organisations to trick you into doing what they want. 

Urgency: Are you told you have a limited time to respond (such as ‘within 24 hours’ or ‘immediately’)? Criminals often threaten you with fines or other negative consequences.

Emotion: Does the message make you panic, fearful, hopeful or curious? Criminals often use threatening language, make false claims of support, or tease you into wanting to find out more.

Scarcity: Is the message offering something in short supply, like concert tickets, air time voucher; some even ask you to send air time vouchers, money or a cure for medical conditions? Fear of missing out on a good deal or opportunity can make you respond quickly.

Current events: Are you expecting to see a message like this? Criminals often exploit current news stories, big events or specific times of year (like tax reporting) to make their scam seem more relevant to you.

Don’t click on any link from an Email in your social media accounts that seems suspicious whether from an account you know or not. That’s the most common way of hacking your social media account.

If you have any doubts about a message, contact the organisation directly. Don’t use the numbers or address in the message – use the details from their official website.

Remember, your bank (or any other official source) will never ask you to supply personal information via email.

Improve Your Cybersecurity To Stop/ Prevent Scams.

Use A Strong And Separate Password For Your Email

If a hacker gets into your email, they could:

  • reset your other account passwords
  • access information you have saved about yourself or your business

Your email password should be strong and different to all your other passwords. This will make it harder to crack or guess.

Using 3 random words is a good way to create a strong, unique password that you will remember.

You should also protect your other important accounts, such as banking or social media.

Create strong passwords using 3 random words

When you use different passwords for your important accounts, it can be hard to remember them all.

A good way to create strong, memorable passwords is by using 3 random words.

Do not use words that can be guessed (like your pet’s name). You can include numbers and symbols if you need to. For example, “RedPantsTree4!”

Saving your passwords in your browser will help you manage them.

Save your passwords in your browser

Saving your password in your browser means letting your web browser (such as Chrome, Safari or Edge) remember your password for you.

This can help:

  • make sure you do not lose or forget your passwords
  • protect you against some cyber crime, such as fake websites

It is safer than using weak passwords, or using the same password in more than one place.

Make sure you protect your saved passwords in case your device is lost or stolen.

Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication (2FA) helps to stop hackers from getting into your accounts, even if they have your password.

Some online banking uses 2FA automatically. It does this by asking for more information to prove your identity, such as a code that gets sent to your phone.

Update your devices

Out-of-date software, apps, and operating systems contain weaknesses. This makes them easier to hack.

Companies fix the weaknesses by releasing updates. When you update your devices and software, this helps to keep hackers out.

Turn on automatic updates for your devices and software that offer it. This will mean you do not have to remember each time.

Some devices and software need to be updated manually. You may get reminders on your phone or computer. Do not ignore these reminders. Updating will help to keep you safe online.

Back up your data

Backing up means creating a copy of your information and saving it to another device or to cloud storage (online).

Backing up regularly means you will always have a recent version of your information saved. This will help you recover quicker if your data is lost or stolen.

You can also turn on automatic backup. This will regularly save your information into cloud storage, without you having to remember.

If you back up your information to a USB stick or an external hard drive, disconnect it from your computer when a back up isn’t being done

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