*Update from Trading Standards – 18th May 2018 *
Online fraud has reached epidemic proportions with the five most common scams in the UK totalling 130,202 cases in 2017. As part of its Beat the Scammers campaign, TalkTalk has worked with Action Fraud to identify the most common online scams.
Here are TalkTalk’s top five scams in the UK last year and how to beat them:
Online shopping and auctions
Shopping and online auction fraud is where a product bought on an internet auction site is either misrepresented online or not delivered. Scammers will accept an electronic payment, but the goods will not arrive, and the sites are found to be bogus and untraceable.
Scam prevention tip: Ask yourself: – is the deal too good to be true? The chances are that if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is. Look at online reviews across several sources, such as Trustpilot, Feefo or Sitejabber, which aggregate customer reviews. This will stop you being duped by fake reviews that may feature on their own site.
Computer software service fraud
Computer software service fraud consists of cold calls from bogus ‘tech support’ teams claiming the victim’s computer has a bug. The scammer will ask to remotely access the victim’s computer to fix it, at a charge, or simply ask for credit card information to ‘validate the software’. The caller will claim to have fixed a bug that didn’t exist, while charging the victim a fee. Fraudsters often use the names of well-known companies to commit their crime, as it makes their communication seem more legitimate.
Scam prevention tip: Most reputable firms will not ask for payment when calling you. When in doubt – hang up and call back on the customer service number provided on the company’s website.
Email/social media hacks
Email or social media hacks are when a scammer gains unpermitted access to email or social media accounts. A common tactic is to contact a family member or friend via a victim’s email or social media account and ask to borrow money and send it to an account that belongs to the scammer.
Scam prevention tip: use different and strong passwords across all accounts.
To create a strong password, select three random words. Using numbers, symbols and combinations of upper and lower-case letters can increase the strength.
Personal computer hacks
A personal computer hack is where a scammer accesses a home computer connected to the internet. This access often comes from phishing emails, directing users to enter personal information at a fake website. Once fraudsters have gained access, they will look to access online banking or to modify the computer in a way that makes it difficult for the owner to use.
Scam prevention tip: You can look out for telltale signs phishing emails with things as simple as poor grammar. Protect your computer by keeping it updated, installing good anti-virus software and by using the latest version of your web browser
Extortion is when a scammer accesses private content, such as photographs, and demands money to be paid immediately or it will be sent to family and friends or made public.
Scam prevention tip: Don’t send anyone content you wouldn’t want to be shared further, even if you think you know the person really well and keep your computer secure with strong passwords and good anti-virus software.