Coffee & Computers | How to detect and avoid online fraudsters, a guide to staying safe online
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Staying safe online: How to avoid fraudsters

During this pandemic, there has been a huge increase in the number of fraudulent emails and texts being sent by cybercriminals. They try to exploit the situation with persuasive messages, ranging from vaccines and cures to tax refunds and fake charity appeals.

Fraudsters send emails containing links that seem convincing (they may look as if they come from your bank, favourite retailer, NHS, HMRC or any other organisation you know and trust), but actually lead to websites designed to capture your confidential details, or infect your devices with viruses and other malware. Or they attach malicious files, which if opened, do the same.

Fraudsters can even spoof the sender address to make them seem completely authentic.


Top tips

  • If you receive an email you haven’t requested, or it seems suspicious in any way, make sure it’s actually from the person or organisation who claims to have sent it. Do this by calling the actual person or organisation on a number you know to be the right one. Don’t call the phone number in the email.
  • Don’t click on links in emails from unknown sources, or if it seems strange that the email would come from that source.
  • Never open attachments from unknown sources, or if it seems strange that the email would come from that source.
  • Check for poor design, grammar and spelling, and whether the email addresses you by your name. However, even if an email passes these tests, it may still be from a fraudster.
  • Don’t make purchases, payments or charity donations in response to spurious emails
  • Beware of messages that suggest that you need to transfer money, provide personal details or perform some other critical action urgently to ‘resolve a problem’. Banks, government departments, the police and other trusted organisations would never communicate with you in this way.
  • Don’t reply to an email that you suspect is fraudulent, and don’t forward it unless you’re reporting it.
  • Don’t click on ‘remove’ or reply to unwanted email – this simply tells senders that your account is live, and may result in you getting a flood of unwanted scam or spam emails.
  • Make sure spam filters are switched on and set up appropriately to avoid unwanted emails getting through, but permitting authentic ones from trusted sources. Check junk mail folders regularly, in case a legitimate email is filtered there in error.
  • Use strong passwords to prevent your email accounts from being hacked. Keep passwords to yourself, and don’t use the same or a similar one for more than one online account.
  • Think twice before you click on anything.

Thanks to Get Safe Online for the text here.

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