Avoiding the scammers online.

As we all are aware science has made some huge advances over the last few years, we have seen science and medicine hand in hand make some wonderful and yet sometimes dangerous and frightening discoveries (such as man made viruses)

The main advancement however has been computer and technology, and despite all the incredible great things it does for us, it is also has its major down sides.

It would be accurate to say that every household here in the UK has at least one pc or laptop, android device such as a tablet or smart phone at hands reach, and even an ordinary landline phone. Services such as the internet and wi-fi have gradually taken over our lives. Namely this is because we want life to be ‘easier’ for us and ‘less complicated’ and because life moves at ‘a faster pace’. We want to commit our time to doing other things. In reality however are we doing just the opposite?

Following a bit of a scare a few months ago when it looked like my email account had been attempted to be hacked, (fortunately they didn’t get in) I decided to do a bit of research and have been reading a fair amount  about the scams that have been going on in just the last year or so, and how to avoid them.

With most of these scams, fortunately the majority of us already aware of. Some of these scams have been going on for years but have been adapted by the scammers to suit themselves. and the modern-day approach and with the use of updated technology.  There is hardly a week goes by that we haven’t heard on the tv news or via an internet news media connection about yet another scam system in operation to be aware of. What is alarming however is the number of people who despite being aware of these scams, still fall into the traps being set up by these ruthless, greedy and sometimes evil scammers. Every now and then a new one creeps in, we are  warned in the media about the new ones, what to look out for, what to avoid and what to do or not to do. The problem is by the time we are warned about it the damage for many has already been done and they are already paying the price for technology scamming.

I can recall many years ago Uncle Norman  once told me ‘you don’t get something for nothing in this world, if you want it bad enough you have to go out and  earn it honestly.

The problem is we are a modern nation where there is so much human greed involved. We see something available for free and we want it, fill out a few details online without really thinking about the consequences of what we have just done….other than the thought were going to get something big back in return. Of course in this day and age of such advanced technology, the only thing you get in return is your bank account emptied out, or your personal details stolen and passed on to some other scheming hacker or scammer.

One of the things I really find annoying is the so-called personal accident lawyers, who get hold of your phone number and contact you because, and I’m quoting in part from one recent phone call I  received ” we have information that you were recently involved in an accident with your car in Birmingham this year, which we understand it was not your fault and therefore due to the injuries sustained you may be entitled to compensation”.  Wait for it…  ”For a small fee up front we can offer you the services of one of our qualified personal accident lawyers”

Ha ha …what a laugh. When ever I receive one of these phone calls, then alarm bells start ringing….I smell a scam or con.

Firstly, where the heck do they get their information from? If I had been involved in a car crash I think I would have known, and I definitely would have known about the injuries I sustained (unless I got a bang on the head and somehow totally forgot about it!!)  Oh, and as for my car, just one problem there…. I don’t drive. Birmingham is a huge city….so saying just Birmingham is somewhat vague. Then there is the bit that ……I ‘may’ be entitled to some compensation, but for small fee up front……  There it is… that small fee up front bit. Oh and they will also need my bank account details for paying in my compensation should I be successful in winning my claim.  Need I say any more? I have been receiving several of these phone calls over the past year and normally, I would jump in and say at the start of the conversation I’m not interested, you have obviously been misinformed and on that they would put the phone down on me. How rude is that? They could at least follow the phone call through, seeing as they had made the effort to contact me,  and the other problem the call is out of area, no phone number to get back in contact with them. Recently however regarding this one particular phone call, I did listen and then decide to try to play them at their own game….. and I let them do all the talking, and what do you think happened at the end of the conversation when I said ” ok, that’s all well and good, but where did you get this information from and which part of Birmingham was this supposed to have happened, oh by the way what car do I own…..of course they put the phone down on me, they obviously realize I’m on to them. Such utter rudeness….I listened to their entire spiel, they could have at least had the decency to listen to mine 😉

That is one of the simpler scams I have come across and been unfortunate to be at the receiving end of, and of course we all know these and the PRP scam calls have been going on for a number of years now.  What is even more annoying is that a lot of 0843 telephone numbers are recorded messages, so you don’t get a chance to speak to anyone anyway….. but they seem to constantly ring you back on their automated phone system,  I really can’t see the point of that. In reality of course these people are criminals, they lie to us, and they cheat us and use various different methods to steal from us, in order to make our lives more difficult and their own much easier. What I do find highly disturbing is the number of elderly people who are being targeted and caught up in these scams, simply because they are more vulnerable, quite possibly because they are less aware of some of these scams and how they work and don’t have the ‘know how’ on technology like the younger generation.

Fortunately, my father is more wary of these phone calls and like me he will challenge the caller if he thinks or even knows it is a scam caller. Unfortunately, there are a lot of other elderly people out there who are not so wise on these modern scams. In  years past, a lot of the elderly were conned in ways that meant rogue cowboy builders turning up on their doorsteps and telling the occupant they noticed a loose tile on the roof, or faulty guttering, or something wrong with their building, or their drive way.  This of course frightens the elderly victim that there was going to be substantial damage caused to their property, and thus they parted with their hard-earned/saved cash to have totally unnecessary jobs supposedly carried out. Back then however because those responsible turned up on people’s steps they were most of the time identified and charged by the police.

These days however, those responsible don’t need to show their faces to any of their victims. Just by the pressing of a few buttons on a computer, or a small chipboard on an ATM machine the deed is done and no trace of those who did it. Surely with more people being aware of this factor then you would have thought people would be more wary and try not to fall into the trap.

The world-wide web has done much to enhance our lives over the last few years, we press a few buttons and within seconds we find the  information we seek. However, some of these scammers and hackers have devised ways to attack us by back door viruses or a harmful trojan that can enter our computers and steal information. The latest worrying threat is this Ransomeware, which it appears even the FBI have been concerned about in recent months. In short the criminals find away to lock your pc, you no longer have access to it, but they claim a ransom to unlock it.   You click on an infected advertisement, link or email attachment, suddenly, a pop up appears. The screen tells you that all the files on your computer have been encrypted, making them useless unless you have a key to decode them. The problem is with this, these scammers are attempting to make money out of us and of course we are not all rich or as well off as they believe us to be, so there are those of us who don’t have the sort of money these people seek….but for some unknown reason that does not seem to deter them. Like us ordinary people who use the pc or laptop as an everyday work tool, we have in away become addicted to our computers, these hackers and criminals have become addicted to scamming us. They simply can’t help themselves or understand what they are doing is very wrong.

I recently started receiving stacks of emails every day for about 2 weeks from a company whose email ended in   1und1.de, after a while my automatic reaction was to unsubscribe, which takes you to website to do so. However, when I clicked on the unsubscribe on their email, fortunately my Norton Security kicks in and warns me not to go there. So alarm bells start ringing. Firstly were do these companies get our email addresses from? Instead I emailed the details and some examples to spam@uce.gov and within a couple of days I stopped receiving any more emails from them.

Of course the first thing we do when we receive an email from an unknown source, is to open it to find out more about it. They make the emails interesting for us to do that, and of course human instinct kicks in and curiosity gets the best of us and before long we are opening it, connecting to their websites and wallop, their job is done.

Another thing I have become more aware of is the free downloads from companies who offer anti-malware software, I recently looked in to installing one of these and found that one particular one called Yet Another Cleaner (YAC) is actually a company who does the opposite of what they say they do!!!  I installed it and found after a  day or so  I was having problems rather than resolving them. After that I uninstalled it all, and decided to look into it in more detail. What I actually found out about them rather alarmed me. After doing some more in-depth research I looked at a very reputable company with a blog and website for even more information called Malwarebytes. What they revealed was even more alarming about YAC. It appears YAC have ‘stolen’ and copied Malwarebytes software, adapted it to their own use and added some viruses. I decide to download directly from their website malwarebytes.org  their anti-malware software, and have to say it is really good and very reassuring. On running my first scan they found over 100 problems which they quarantined ready for me to delete, and the astounding thing is almost all of the problems were associated with YAC.  The good thing with Malwarebytes they offer a 14 day free trial and for an extremely affordable annual fee (less than £20.00 per yr, which a small price to pay rather than being held to ransom,) you can then have peace of mind by ensuring you have some really good extra defences in place. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware’s industry-leading scanner detects and removes worms, Trojans, rootkits, rogues, spyware, and other dangerous malware from your home PC. Even pc advisor recommends this company, so that is reassuring, as once this type of defence is in place you are less likely to get scammed via your pc.

Please be careful out there in 2016…don’t be the victim of any ruthless scammer. Life is sometimes too easy, don’t make it any easier for these criminals. Remember…you don’t get something for nothing in this world. It is so easy to click on the wrong button and end up getting scammed

The below information is courtesy of BT Yahoo.

From fake tickets to pension fraudsters: the worst scams of 2015

The last 12 months have seen a whole raft of new scams attempting to steal our money by various means. Here are the worst ones we encountered.

Sadly the number of scams that fraudsters are attempting shows no sign of decreasing.

Here’s a look at some of the worst scams we’ve seen in the last 12 months:

The most convincing scam

Everyone likes a pizza or curry, which might explain why so many people were taken in by a scam promising a £10 Just Eat voucher simply by answering a few questions.

It appeared to be a genuine email asking customers to rate the service they received, with a £10 reward to be spent via the website for taking part. Inevitably, users were asked to enter their bank details in order to gain the £10 credit, allowing the fraudsters to steal their details.

The email was especially convincing because it contained victims’ full name and other personal details and asked them to sign in using their Just Eat details and password.

The most persistent scam

Criminals pretending to be internet service providers or software companies is nothing new. They ring up victims and trick them into allowing remote access to their PCs, usually claiming they have been infected with a virus.

The victim then allows them into their computer so they can ‘fix’ it. Some crooks even charge a fee for this service!

Obviously, once they have access they steal as much information as they can or blackmail you into paying them more.

However, in 2015 computer takeover fraud rocketed. According to Financial Fraud Action, there has been a surge in reported cases over the last 12 months. This is partly down to several high profile data breaches, which the crooks used as a cover story for why they needed to fix their victims’ PCs.

The most official-looking scam

Back in September, the DVLA warned drivers of reports of people receiving emails demanding they verify their details or risk losing their licence.

As with many phishing emails, it contained a link to a replica website that requested driving licence details and bank information. This unpleasant little scam tricked people by using a very convincing fake website, along with an urgent threat – few people can risk being left without a licence and so many responded before they even thought about it.

The most devastating scam

Pensions underwent some drastic changes this year, which had two key effects: first, they gave retirees access to large pots of money in one go and second, they resulted in a great deal of confusion.

Of course there’s nothing fraudsters like better than confusion and large pots of cash. It’s their dream scenario, which is why in September The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) put out a statement warning people that scammers were pretending to be official representatives, talking older people into signing up for shady investments.

The meanest scam

All fraud is cruel and has the potential to devastate the victim, but this scam was particularly mean. Rugby fans were delighted when the World Cup came to the UK, but so too were the scam artists.

It was against the rules to sell or transfer tickets, or to buy them from any but the official vendors and Rugby World Cup 2015 had reserved the right to cancel any tickets that had been passed on this way. That meant that many people bought genuine tickets at higher prices than the face value only to find they were out of pocket and could not receive a refund.

Not only that but some professional-looking websites were selling tickets that either broke the rules or had been faked, according to warnings from Which? There was even a rash of scams where people were told they had won tickets in a lottery and or automated ballet, which then required the ‘winner’ to pay an admin fee to claim their prize.

Those poor fans forked out a fortune for illegal tickets but found themselves ripped off and watching the games in the pub like the rest of us.

The sneakiest scam

When Microsoft launched its new operating system Windows 10 in August, fraudsters across the globe decided to cash in too. There were reports of Windows users receiving emails that appeared to be from Microsoft, offering them a free upgrade if they clicked on an installer in the message.

As soon as the recipient did so, the link released a load of ransomware onto their PC and warned them that their files had been encrypted. They would have to pay in order to unlock their files or lose them forever.

What made this scam so very sneaky was how genuine it looked – as long as you didn’t notice the occasional typos. It appeared to come from ‘update@microsoft.com’ and so looked very genuine, and it even had a disclaimer at the bottom saying it had been scanned for viruses.

The most subversive scam

While most scam artists hide behind computers and rip off their victims over the phone, a few went undercover this year. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau warned that customer service and front-desk banking staff are being befriended and then groomed by fraudsters, sometimes over months.

These bogus friends monitor staff and then ‘meet’ them on their days off, before gradually seducing them into stealing personal account data.

One ex-bank employee, who is now in prison for his part in the theft, explained that he met the fraudsters at his local market. “They were nice people. I had no idea they were fraudsters. This went on for a few months before they asked me to do anything. They were really clever and over time they got to know more about me personally.”

The employees are either bribed or coerced into sharing information. Of course, when the scam is found out the original criminals have vanished, leaving only the staff member to carry the can for their crimes.

The most likely scam for 2016

There have only been 16 reported cases of this scam so far, but experts have tipped it for big growth in 2016. The NFIB has warned of fraudsters ringing victims to tell them they have been in the wrong council tax bracket for years and are owed a rebate of around £7,000.

Once the victim is convinced, they are asked for an admin fee of between £60 and £350 to process the payment after which, you’ve guessed it, they never hear from the caller again.

According to Action Fraud, this scam has only just started targeting victims, typically aged over 60 and in the Sussex area, but they expect to see more of it. Definitely one to be wary of over the next 12 months.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

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