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Phones, tablets, fitness trackers. We live our lives online. But while this has opened up a world of new possibilities, it’s also made us vulnerable to hackers, scammers and fraudsters.

Careful what you click

Phones, tablets, fitness trackers. We live our lives online. But while this has opened up a world of new possibilities, it’s also made us vulnerable to hackers, scammers and fraudsters.

As part of our week looking at scams, we take a look at the kind of tactics criminals might use to target you on your online devices.

Phishing

What is it?

An email scam where someone sends you an email from what appears to be a legitimate source, like your bank, HM Revenue and Customs or PayPal. You will then be asked to follow a link and enter your login details. In reality this is a fake website which collects your information.

How to spot it?

The first thing to look at is how the email addresses you. Scammers will commonly use something general like Dear Sir, Dear Madam or Dear Customer, but legitimate emails will use your name.

Second, look at the email address it comes from. This can normally be done by expanding the section at the top of the email. A legitimate email will come from a recognisable email address (e.g. noreply@bank.com). Scammers will have to fill it in with random numbers and letters to make it seem real (e.g. noreply@1234.bank.com).

What to do?

Never click the links in email. Always open a new internet browser window and go to the site directly and log in. This way, you’ll never get caught out by a fake website.

Pharming

What is it?

Similar to phishing, but without the email. Scammers attack the website your visiting, so you end up getting sent to a fake website.

How to spot it?

More difficult, as you put in the right website address and would naturally assume you’ve gone to the real website.

You will need to be very observant. The website address will show up, not as the name of you were expecting, but as a selection of numbers, or something similar to the real name, but with letters switched around, or a different spelling.

What to do?

Be observant when you’re logging into websites and be on the look-out for dodgy looking website addresses. It is also vital to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.

Smishing

What is it?

Text message scam. Scammers will get in contact with you claiming to be from your bank, asking you to update your personal details, or give them a call.

The text message might include a link, like a Phishing scam, or a phone number to call. The phone number is fake and the fraudsters will try to get you to reveal your details.

How to spot it?

Hard to spot, so it’s best to always be suspicious. One giveaway might be the phone number in the message will not be the same as the one on your credit or debit card.

What to do?

Never click a link in a text message. Go directly to your banks website. If you are worried your bank’s really trying to get in contact with you, call the number on your credit or debit card, not the one in the text message. 

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