Staying Safe Online from Cybercrime

Cybercrime (or computer crime) is a fast-growing area of crime that affects home computers as well as businesses. Here are some things to watch out for:

Malware is a term used to refer to a variety of forms of intrusive software that can install programs onto your computer and extract information that can be used in scams – like genuine sounding telephone calls – using information they got from your computer (or online).  If anyone rings you and tells you there is something wrong with your computer, it’s most likely a scam, no-one can access your computer without your permission – it’s illegal – if you are worried ring us, advice is free.

Watch out for this current telephone scam.  Fibre-optic broadband is being rolled out across Shropshire.  If someone ‘from BT’ rings and tells you that your new broadband is now working perfectly but you are due a refund because of poor service in the past – this is a scam.  They then ask for your bank details so they can pay you – but take money OUT of your account.   Never give your bank details to someone you don’t know.  Fortunately, in this instance, the person concerned paid via Paypal and was therefore able to get a refund, the scam was reported and the bank recommended she get her computer checked for viruses. We have now scanned her computer, removed fake programs (that windows recognise but are spyware), installed a free anti-virus program and she is now safe to use her new fibre-optic fast broadband.

Premium Rate Telephone Numbers The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is warning the public about rogue websites advertising fake premium rate numbers for their cruelty line.  Numbers beginning ‘09’ can charge up to £3.60 per minute and up to £6 per call.  You can check call rates on: www.gov.uk/call-charges

The most common scams are phishing scams in an email posing as a government official with a fake link that loads a virus onto your computer.  Official sources like the tax office or your bank – will never ask you to disclose personal information like passwords or pin numbers by email or phone.  Scam emails include telling you about a tax refund, a court case, a prize you have won.  Don’t open the email or click on any links or attachments.  Even if it’s someone you know it could still be a virus, you can read the email without opening it.

Windows XP is out of date and the firewalls no longer offer any protection online leaving computers wide open to viruses.  We had a serious problem recently with a client who turned his computer on one morning and all his data had disappeared – which necessitated specialist data recovery.  If you’re still running a computer on Windows XP you need to upgrade it – the earliest protected edition is Windows Vista.

Social media  Be wary when using Facebook – if something looks like it hasn’t been sent by your friend – it probably hasn’t – and their account has been hacked – so don’t click on it.  Currently there are fake videos and photos being sent via Facebook – don’t open anything you are not sure of.

Beware of look-alike websites that seem like a quick and easy way to register for things but charge a fee when the services they purport to be offering are actually free.  Examples are the Blue Badge disability scheme (which is a scam – obtaining a genuine blue badge is a lengthy process), the telephone preference service and the mailing preference service.

www.tpsonline.org.uk  is the correct website to register to reduce unsolicited phone calls.

and www.mpsonline.org.uk is the correct website to register to stop unwanted post .

You can find out more information on current scams and things to watch out for at www.actionfraud.police.uk

this article will be published in the December 2017 edition of the Whitchurch Gossip