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Avoid those Internet (and other) Scams
The latest news about SCAMS can be found on http://www.actionfraud.org.uk/
2nd March 2013. Evernote, which stores data for people around the world, has reported that its database has been hacked and is warning everyone to change their passwords
June 2013 The phone calls from "Microsoft. Support...we have detected your machine is running slowly/has a virus etc" continue to be commonplace. We just tell them we don't have a PC and they go on to find another mug. A (slightly) more legitimate version comes from a company called Help PC Online, which "Which" investigated. Their British phone number actually connects to a call centre in Delhi and their address in Crawley appeared on Google to be a car park! For £110 per annum they promise to give you support. They then take over your PC and install and run two (legit) free packages (Ccleaner and Malwarebytes) Whilst I thoroughly approve those the charge is excessive. But there can be much worse consequences from allowing someone to take over your machine. In fact you are giving them the right to search the whole hard disk and they may find details you would prefer not to disclose. Always report scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
Jan 13 A vacuum cleaner/phone scam. You get an email which asks you for your opinion on vacuum cleaners. You might win one. You have to click OK to accept the terms and conditions and enter a valid mobile phone number. That number is not so you can be contacted day and night on my vacuuming views, but and this is in the small print so you can be billed on your phone. It says: Service costs £3 per question played and a £4.50 sign up fee. You will receive an additional £1.50 charge for a reminder message tomorrow. An expensive 'free' vacuum cleaner.
If you suspect that a mailshot to you is a scam it is suggested that you take it to the library and also report it to Action Fraud. There is currently a Scamnesty campaign, as these things seem to be affecting so many people. About 7% of those who have been duped have lost £4000 or more.
What is Ukash ? Ukash.com is an organisation which sells vouchers via outlets such as shops and these vouchers can be used to pay for things on websites. Unfortunately, Ukash has been used by scammers and virus writers to spread their evil trade. Please be careful if you get approaches mentioning Ukash. Make sure it is genuine.
In the latest scam people are sold a power saving plug for £90. It doesn't work and can be dangerous. Worse than this, the seller has now got you credit card details. A second call offers compensation if you send a bankers draft for £300. You don't get any compensation but you will certainly lose a further £300 ! Clever.
The OFT have issued guidelines regarding the top scams. They say
The phone call which convinces you there is something wrong with your computer. They may even get access to it. Don't let them and don't pay a penny !
Advance fee - the Nigerian letter scam. (Send them cash and you will get millions. Just hand over your bank details)
Investment opportunities. (The Boiler Room Scams - YOU will get scalded)
You advertise something and you get an even better offer. They will send you a cheque but could you send them the difference
Lotteries. (You have WON ! even though you didn't enter)
Miracle health cures (Snake oil, or a couple of bottles of Dr Good)
'Phishing' Some are so clever - see below
Prize draws and sweepstakes (Just hand over your bank details)
Pyramid selling and chain gift scheme. (All you have to do is recruit more mugs)
Work-from-home schemes (you pay THEM)
An email from a relative says they are stuck in some foreign part and can you send them some cash.
** Telephone scam. Typically these people say there is a virus on your computer.
When you look they point you to log files from something called an
event viewer that displays normal system errors and they say they are viruses
- rubbish. DO NOT under any circumstances listen to these people or let them
on your computer.
** We got a call from these people. My wife asked them to give their name and address and started to write down what she was told, which was "F for Freddie, U for Umbrella. C for Charlie, K......" She finally twigged. So, if you get such a call, just ask them to give you their details......They will leave you alone, for a while anyway.
A new scam on the block is mentioned at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15984990 The foreign caller tries to sell a £90 gadget that is supposed to save you electricity. They seem to know your name and address (ok they are working down phone books) but worryingly even know your energy supplier and credit card details. Apart from not saving electricity it is liable to cause a fire and electrocute you ! A real bargain !
Watch out for sites which offer to help with debt problems. The Office of Fair Trading has managed to close at least 19 of these sites, which were selling on personal information from callers, who were then inundated with calls from Debt Management Companies. Details are worth as much as £1000 per person, so you know that the sharks are keen to make a killing. Sites such as "SameDayLoans" and even "Loans for people with disabilities" should be viewed with great suspicion.
In view of the fact that Sony admits to have had millions of details of their Sony Playstation accounts, including card details it would be wise if everyone with a Playstation account asked their bank to change the number of their card. As the vital number on the back of the cards was encrypted it may not come to anything, but why risk it ?
I nearly fell for a genuine looking email from Virgin media telling me my bill wasn't paid. I even went as far as filling in my email address and password but the next page wanted my card details. Looking at the top of the page I noticed the address was a Polish one ! (PL) I reported it to Virgin and changed my password quick. Phishing mails are so convincing these days.
I get summaries of software from CNET downloads. I have never seen one as critical as the one on TuneUp360. Supposedly shareware, it does the usual trick of telling you what is dangerous in big red letters, then suggests you buy their software to clear the problems. It makes changes you don't ask for and a further check says you still have the problems. Shareware used to have good connotations. This shareware appears to be more SCAREWARE !
Not a scam as such but one where you should be wary. TNT, the parcel distributors, send out a million questionnaires on behalf of companies. The questions are quite intrusive and you are asked to leave the answers in a paper bag on your doorstep. In view of the prevalence of identity theft I suggest that you do not do this for the sake of a box of chocolates !
January 2013 There is a lot of fuss about whether having the program Java as a browser add-on invites in malware. Unfortunately the answer is probably YES. Although the company, Oracle, has now said it has fixed it (as of 15/1/13) they have often had to say this - until the next weakness is found. Java isn't required by most programs you run. The easiest way to turn it off all of the browsers you use is to install Soluto (www.soluto.com) which gives a quick fix. But also see http://ask-leo.com/should_i_disable_java_and_if_so_how.html?awt_l=BNm.h&awt_m=K429IRa4eZdfbL for a more detailed explanation. Having said that I went to sign on to a Yahoo blog and it asked for Java !
Someone raised the hoary one about not ringing back some unusual phone neumber you were requested to call - as if you would! Snopes reckons the dangers of being charged thousands of dollars is small these days. But just don't do it, even if they promise the earth.
The phone calls have started up again ! The fact that I have had at least four phone calls from scammers who try to convince me or my wife that there is something wrong with our computer indicates that this is BIG BUSINESS. They are employing a lot of people on a lot of telephones and they are working through telephone directories. THEY ARE CROOKS. They bank on the fact that a high percentage of homes (85%) have at least one PC and they often have problems. And that a percentage of those called will fall for their techniques of eliciting vital information from them. And there is only one outcome: YOU WILL LOSE MONEY. Believe me it is a BIG (and CRIMINAL) business and you MUST TAKE NO PART IN IT !
This problem has become so serious Action Fraud are asking people to report cases to them so they can coordinate with The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau run by the Metropolitan Police. These people sound so convincing ! I doubt if you can find out details of the fraudsters but if you do please report them to http://www.actionfraud.org.uk/
A really clever one this. The Solicitors Regulation Authority and Law Society
are supposed to check solicitors which are registered with them. But
bogus solicitors are to be found on their " Find a Solicitor' lists. In three
cases recently (Mail) bogus solicitors have made a killing by raising mortgages
(from gullible Building Societies ?) on houses which were not even for sale
And the email which suggests you download a file so you can collect an undelivered parcel has come back to haunt us again. Beware of such emails.
October 2010 Beware of sites that tell you you can make hundreds of pounds a week for a few hours work. Always do a search on such sites and see what others say. Most of them are making a good living out of selling their system to YOU ! So, do your research before sending off any cash.
June 2010 Everyone should now be alert to the numerous e-mails which claim to be from your bank and it isn't difficult to spot if you have never had an account with that bank. But the Phishers and scammers constantly look for ways to trick you into giving away your passwords or try to infect you machine so that it becomes part of a 'Botnet' or 'Zombie', which means they can use it remotely to spread even more mahem or merely spread spam. It must be worth the effort or they wouldn't do it. So watch out for things such as invitations to add some stranger as a friend in Facebook; or get a notice which says you have bought something; or are told that your Facebook, Paypal or whatever account is being closed down; or they have noticed some unusual activity on an account etc. Another common one is the bargain item. Just when you are searching for a used car and you see one that is low mileage and very cheap - even if it is advertised on a reputable site. Contact them by email and you may be at the start of something nasty. The car may still have HP debt, be stolen, made up of parts or may even not exist at all. So, BE ON YOUR GUARD
March 2010. Zdnet (and Mcafee) say If you get an e-mail that appears to be from Facebook saying the company reset your password and urging you to open an attachment, it is a scam
March 2010 The National
Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) advises victims of fraud to report these
directly to a new agency, Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre,
rather than their local police force. And Computer Active would like
to hear as well at
If you are called it would help us if you could note down: The name, number and website of the person calling, If they want payment and any details they offer such as a Paypal ID
Access codes if they offer to take control of your PC, The name of any software they may try and sell you
December 09 We had a telephone call and my wife said that the caller said that there was something wrong with my computer. I immediately asked "How would he know ?" But apparently lots of people fall for it and finish up giving them details they shouldn't have. Beware !
October 09 Not a scam but I signed up to Shopper Discounts and Rewards (United States), who promise cashback for various things. But, if you look at the small print, they intend to charge £10 a month to your Credit/Debit card ! I cancelled immediately. I got into this as a result of booking a coach trip with National Express on line. Everyone who does this is invited to 'click here to print a voucher for £10, which can be set against the next booking. I had already given my credit card details and clicked ! So watch out if you are booking with National Express. There are plenty of voucher and cashback sites one can use without charge.
Sept 09. Computer Active reports three scams.: In the first someone paid £140 for Festival tickets that didn't arrive. The only recourse was to claim the money back from the credit card company (and change the credit card) The second was when someone sold an item on Ebay. They had an e-mail from 'Paypal' to say the money had arrived. But it hadn't. The email was a spoof. They lost out. The third case was a purchase of an iPhone from a website. Their credit card was refused so they sent £400 by wire transfer, as requested. The site even had a golden padlock. But they lost their £400. They were advised to change their credit card as the information had been given to the fraudulent company. Recently I have been called in to remove scareware on PCs. Their PC was full of reports of viruses and a request to register the anti virus software (requesting as much as $79. If you agree you will not get rid of the viruses they planted and what is worse they will have your credit card details. For a gangster it is a win-win-win situation ! Beware of software called Antivirus 2008, 2009 and, undoubtedly, 2010, 2011 ad infinitum. If you are infected please get in touch with me via another PC.
The BBC has uncovered a credit card scam in India. The criminal gang was selling UK credit card details stolen from Indian call centres. Two undercover reporters met the main broker in a Delhi coffee shop, who said he could supply them with hundreds of credit and debit card details each week at $10 a card! Three card holders ordered the same computer software package (Symantec) within hours of each other. Their details were then in turn passed on, almost immediately, to the reporters. Symantec has since tightened up their security within the call centres.
A company called Matters Consulting Ltd is posting letters to millions of homes suggesting that they have been awarded a prize. It is all an advertising stunt to try to get you telephone them and to pay a Gym Club fee. Careful !
Age Concern (now called AgeUK) on 0800 169 29 39 produce a book called " How to avoid scams "
June 09 Just had a call from a friend. They had a phone
call from some Indian sounding person who told them that they had a virus
on their motherboard. They said they were from a company called
"Support on Click" . I instantly suspected a scam. I mean, how could they tell that she had a virus on her PC? I Googled for the 'Company' and found the following link http://ctaspley.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/update-on-support-on-click-police-alert-to-scam/ They attempt to talk you into allowing them access to your PC and then plant viruses/trojans etc.
The fact that this happened to another friend shows how widespread this scam is
21st December. Just had a report of a new scam. You get a call from someone who says they are from Visa and seems to know quite a bit about you. They say they are investigating unusual withdrawals on your Visa card and ask you to verify the last three numbers on the back of your card. DON'T DO IT !
19th October. Computer Active reports a new scam. Adverts are appearing in recruitment sites for people to take orders or handle financial transactions. The advertisers may use well known company names. The person is sent cash to their account and they are supposed to send money back after taking a commission. It is similar to the car deal scam (which I have seen in action). The Money Mule (or Ass) sends real money only to discover that the money order they received is worthless and the bank reneges on the payment. They are left in debt.
11th October 08 The Telegraph publishes an article about Chip and Pin machines which are tampered with before they leave the factory in China. See HERE The card companies are frantically going around checking the weight of such machines. Sainsbury's, Asda etc. But, will they get around to all of them, including your local garage ? Check your statements every month.
1st Aug 08 How about making money this way. You create a tiny program that is reckoned to check whether you drivers are up to date and then charge people $20 even before they have used it. It then takes you to the part of you computer that tells you how to update a driver and tells you to get on with it ! That is Prosoft 3D's Driver Update 5. Most driver update programs at least attempt to tell you which of your drivers are out of date before asking you for cash to sort it out ! At least I gather they will give folk a refund... and should do.
If you are concerned about Identity and Credit Card theft (and you should be as the banks will not be forgiving indefinitely) you should read http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/cards/identity-fraud#what The article suggests that you get a Capital One Card, even if you do not intend to use it. Capital One give insurance against Identity theft, two free Credit Reports per annum and an email if you credit record has been amended or checked. So, if you get an email and haven't bought anything it is possible that you have been defrauded.
July 08 eBay and PayPal have linked up with Gmail to roll out technology designed to block fraudulent emails and phishing attacks. Though not claimed to be 100% it will mean fewer scam emails purporting to be from Paypal and eBay. I consider that Gmail (Googlemail) spam filtering is also nearly 100% and saves me a lot of hassle.
Jan 2008 For free information about ways to prevent fraud and identity theft see www.cifas.org.uk. the not for profit UK fraud prevention service. See also http://www.identity-theft.org.uk/who-can-help.html
Dec 2007 In a recent scam admitted by Norwich Union over £3,000,000 was paid out to criminals. They had obtained details of people from Companies House. They then phoned NU and asked them to change the address and email for individuals who had life policies. They later cancelled the polices and walked away with the proceeds. Fortunately, some have been traced and had up and some of the money was recovered. NU have apologised and tightened their security. Not sure about Company House.
Dec 2007. A teenager in New Zealand has been caught by the FBI after infecting a million PCs in Holland with Keylogger viruses. These keep records of things you type in such as bank details, which he was able to access, siphoning off millions from their accounts. I wonder how many people do not keep their anti virus software up to date because they don't know how, it takes too long, or they haven't even got any ! Sleep well.
Nov 2007. Recent research commissioned by the OFT involving 11,200 interviews found that 1,388,000 UK consumers fall victim to prize draw and sweepstake scams, 400,000 to bogus holiday clubs, 330,000 to work at home scams, 200,000 to miracle health scams, 170,000 to clairvoyant and psychic scams, 110,000 to loan scams. The total taken amounts to around £3.4 billion. Some elderly people whose name has been added to a 'suckers list' have received 70 letters a day ! To fight this menace, the OFT has launched Scams Awareness Month. The watchdog says it has made it a priority to tackle mass-marketed scams and help reduce the number of victims.
SCAM, SCAM, SCAM ! Everywhere you look. Ok, you expect an email from Nigeria asking you to help transfer a million dodgy £££ for a cut, or offering you over the odds for that car (as long as you send them something first... ) But these days we are being ripped off by what used to be upstanding organisations. The banks have been overcharging for unauthorised overdrafts, insurance companies have been mis-selling insurance, banks and building societies have been selling debt insurance to people who couldn't claim and councils have been charging rates on the basis of incorrect valuations done by someone driving by in a car ten years ago ! These days you have to be very wary.
The latest scam is the skimming of credit cards - see below **.
Derrick reports " received a TEXT on my mobile that just stated "Hi There" twice and had a 'Smiley' face after each entry. Unfortunately I clicked it to see who it was from and it took me to a website, which looked very suspicious. Just hoping we wont have a phone virus or a large phone bill". So don't accept a call like this.
Computer Active reports that a company website called instant-av.co.uk has been taking orders for equipment, then using card details to buy thousands of pounds worth of goods (mainly alcohol). The site had no Security Certificate but was using Google Checkout and Worldpay methods of transferring cash. Google and Worldpay have now terminated their payment services. But it does show how easy it is for crooks to set up such sites. If in doubt click on the golden padlock on the bottom line to check the validity of the sellers certificate, though even this is not 100% fraud proof.
Not a scam but a very expensive way of calling certain numbers. I am trying to block all Google ads which invite people to make an income out of premium numbers. If you see such an advert on my site please let me know. This is the sort of thing they quote
I am also blocking the huge number of advertisers who get you to scan your hard disk, revealing lots of scary problems, then expect you purchase software to clean them. Some of these may be legitimate but some actually plant nasties on your computer.
On line fraud (such as not getting goods ordered from Ebay) is now so common that the police are showing no interest if the sum involved is just a few hundred.
The chief increase in crime has been robbery and most of that has been mobile phones. It would hardly be worthwhile if people blocked calls as soon as they had their phone stolen. To block the phone's use you should report its unique number to your mobile phone company. Make sure you record this number in a safe place. It is obtainable on ALL mobile phones by pressing *#06#. Do it now and keep it in a safe place !
www.immobilise.com. is a free service where you can register the details of items such as mobile phones and bicycles. If you lose your phone your account should be cancelled quickly by notifying the telephone company. But stolen items notified to Immobilise.com are notified to the Police rapidly. Worth a look but with the police attitude to 'smaller' items I wouldn't hold my breath.
** n.b. The most common form of robbery on the streets today is for mobile phones. And yet you can block the use of a phone almost immediately by getting in touch with the service provider and telling them to block it. You will need to tell them the Serial Number. To get this you should press *#06# on the phone and make a note of it in a safe place
** Credit card fraud is on the increase after a lull after 'Chip and Pin' was introduced. These days people are having money taken from their accounts from ATM machines from Toronto to Bangkok and Sydney. How is it done ? Some clever organisation tampers with a Chip and Pin machine (often in a petrol station). This not only records your number but also the Pin you tap in, so you account is now open to crooks who draw from it in countries where Chip and Pin has not been introduced (most). A quick call to their mate in Kuala Lumpur and they are rich ! Perfect ! It is untraceable until enough people report they used that garage. By then the machine has been changed back. Hopefully your bank will notice unusual transactions - but I wouldn't bank on it.
Barclays is expected to issue its card users with a small device, which will produce a randomly generated number, which will then need to be used, along with passwords and identification numbers when accessing a Barclays account. Other banks may follow suit, except HSBC, which says it sees no need.
Phishing News : Banks have normally compensated people who had been caught out and had money taken out of their account. But the latest report shows that their patience is wearing thin and they are now considering that 'losing one stash of cash is unfortunate, to lose two seems like carelessness'. If you fall for it twice you may be the loser. So, be careful.
Good explanation of what Phishing is about http://askbobrankin.com/phishing_scams.html
New Phishing attack Feb 2007
The above report goes into detail about a new, covert, 'phishing' attach. When surfers visit certain sites, they are directed to one of the five servers which covertly downloads a file called "iexplorer.exe" onto vulnerable. PCs. Users are informed that the site is temporarily busy. Hackers cheekily suggest that surfers might want to shut down any firewall and anti-virus software they have running.
If successfully downloaded, the "iexplorer.exe" file attempts to download additional malware components from a server in Russia that also acts as a bot controller, giving hackers access to compromised machines. .
Security firm Websense reports : Compromised machines automatically connect to the server in Russia, and not legitimate e-commerce firms, when users log-on in an attempt to carry out an e-commerce transaction. Websense warns that thousands of surfers have already been hit by the attack, based on statistics held on the attack server.
"Once the DLLs are installed and loaded and the end-user connects to one of more than 50 financial institutions or e-commerce websites (to view their account or order something), the code transparently replaces some HTML within the page and posts the end-user's logon credentials to the server in Russia.
"At the time of this alert, the statistics showed more than 1,000 successful infections per day, with the USA and Australia leading the list," Websense explains. ®
So, check your machine for Iexplorer.exe. The only one on there should be iexplorer.exe without an R on the end. If it has an R then it is 'malware'
One 'Phisherman' will probably regret it. He is scheduled to appear for sentencing before US District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder on June 11 where he faces a maximum sentence of up to 101 years imprisonment !
The Parcel Delivery Service scam is now a hoax. Although this happened last year it has now been closed down by ICSTIS (now called Phonepay Plus) and the Trading Standards Office : A card was posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) saying that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them (on a premium rate number). The tale is that, if you call the number, you would start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £15. This was never true and is an 'urban myth'. The amount charged was much less. But if you do suspect a telephone scam report it to ICSTIS (Now called Phonepayplus) If anything sounds like a scam address it is PhonePayPlus but it IS the genuine thing!
PHISHING NEWS (phishing is an e-mail designed to look as if it is
from a bank and asks you to fill in details).
If you get a phishing e-mail...and you WILL, you can report it by forwarding it to email@example.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org
October 2006. Internet Explorer 7 is designed to warn you about 'Phishing' sites. Is this what Microsoft calls Phishing Tackle ? Even old IE 6, or Firefox users can get an anti phishing toolbar. See http://toolbar.netcraft.com/
Netcraft analyses where Phishing sites originate. There are thousands spread around the world. They also warn that Netcraft has discovered that the social networking site, MySpace, appears to have been compromised (Hacked into) by phishers who have presented a spoof login form on the main site. This modified login form is designed to submit the victim's username and password to a remote server hosted in France. I imagine Myspace has, by now cleared that. But, in any case, if you have Netcraft you would get the following screen,
Sept 06 The Bank of Ireland has graciously agreed to refund victims of a phishing scam which saw customers losing out on a total of over £76,000. The bank was previously claiming that it was the customers' own stupid fault that they'd disclosed their personal log-on information and that it was their responsibility to keep that data safe. Most customers found they were short of £5,000 to £16,000 after tapping their details into a fake website, but one individual was thought to be down a whopping £49,000 as a result of the scam. Financial institutions in Ireland have set up the High-Tech Crime Forum in response to the growing problem of cyber-crime and to deal with future attacks. The group is still being set up but it is expected to meet every two months. Police involvement in the body means that it may have access to fraud information from across Europe provided by Interpol and Europol.
The Office of Fair trading OFT have set up a team to bring to book scammers, said to be costing UK consumers a billion a year. A young man not far from here is on trial suspected of running away with thousands by selling fraudulent Website names and also spamming people saying that they have to pay up or their site name will be deleted. If you have been a victim try https://www.gov.uk/ Useful pages also include www.apacs.org.uk (Association of Payment Clearing Services) www.cardwatch.org.uk , www.banksafeonlne.org.uk and www.getsafeonline.org
To avoid clicking on links to scammers' websites always check the address that appears on your browser's bottom line when you hover the mouse over the link. They may not be what they appear to be. Check the wording in the website using Google. If it leads to a website which is marked with a red cross with Macafee Site Advisor (http://www.siteadvisor.com/download/ie.html), do not proceed.
SCAMS For the latest see www.met.police.uk/fraudalert I got an immediate response from Det Sgt Tim Hinks on 020 7230 1279 when I enquired about a scam (see below).
August 06 Vnunet has reported a HUGE number of phishing emails has been sent out this month, using Zombies. The subject lines of the emails invariably refer to either NatWest or Bank of Scotland. Examples include: Official Information To Client Of NatWest bank Mon, 31 Jul 2006 16:58:33 -0800 Bank of Scotland: Urgent Security Notification For All Clients Mon, 31 Jul 2006 23:49:13 -0100 NatWest bank: Important Fraud Alert Verify Your Data With NatWest bank NatWest bank: urgent security notification [Tue, 01 Aug 2006 03:57:17 +0300] Verify Your DetaiIs With NatWest bank Mon, 31 Jul 2006 16:59:35 -0800 PROTECT YOUR NatWest bank ACCOUNT Mon, 31 Jul 2006 16:56:07 -0800 NatWest bank: URGENT SECURITY NOTIFICATION FOR CLIENT
The phishing emails contain an inline image and if recipients click on the image, they are directed to a website where they are instructed to input their personal information. Once entered, the information can then be used by the cyber criminals behind the attack to siphon cash from victims bank accounts.
Identity Theft : Means getting hold of enough information about you to pose as you. When you finally dispose of your computer you are advised to wipe the hard disk clean. See Wikipedia on DBAN http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DBAN (DBAN is a Linux based boot disk which really wipesyour drive.) Otherwise people may find your details, even though you have deleted them. Many recycled computers are sent to third world countries to help them. But you do not want them to help themselves to your bank account ! Also, you should be careful with things like domestic accounts, Gas bills etc. as they are often requested by banks as a method of proving your identity. Take care to get rid of account details at the tiop of bank statements. If you move house or flat make sure that mail is forwarded to you and not left in some hallway for anyone to pick up.
July 06 : I received an email purporting to be from SpysoftCentral indicating that it had taken a certain amount out of my Visa for the software and would continue to do this quarterly. I was supposed to click on links. I did not. They would probably try to get me to reveal my Visa details. I also understand that it sometimes appears with a ZIP attachment, which contains a Trojan. Beware !
I have had a report of an 'infection' of a computer by software called Winsoftware. This has scary messages about your computer being vulnerable and suggesting you buy their program. A brief visit to the internet showed several references to Winsoftware, all of them with red cross warnings by the excellent Mcafee warning software Site Advisor (Download from http://www.siteadvisor.com/download/ie.html) I also discovered references to Winantivirus, Winfixit and Winfixer. These all have red crosses against. One forum comment showed that these are based in Kiev, Ukraine. You should treat all of them as you would an invitation to a day trip to Chernobyl ! Once they are on your computer it is a difficult job to get rid of them.
Another scam report is a phone call that purports to be from your Credit Card company. By various means they attempt to get you to tell them the vital three digit number on the back of the card and then order goods on that basis. It is has been easy enough to get your credit card number from the imprint made when you have bought goods or restaurant meals. Beware !
Angela reports that people are receiving either a telephone call or a card through the door, claiming to be from the Post Office or Courier saying that a parcel containing either a Camera or a Radio has been left at their offices and could they please ring the number to collect. Inevitably the number is a premium one. The Post office states that it never does this, so watch out !
Phonepayplus (formerly ICSTIS) the Premium Services Regulator has been given the power to fine companies that run rogue diallers up to a quarter of a million. Fines can also be levied on companies that make unsolicited premium rate calls to mobile phones.
They have a message on their site (Jan 08) that there is an incorrect warning going around the net and says "If you receive a copy of an email warning you about an alleged scam associated with the number 0906 661 1911, please do NOT forward it to others. This service was shut down by us in December 2005 and is no longer running".
If you get unsolicited premium messages on your mobile phone (up to £1.50) the sender is breaking the law. Complain to the regulator Phonepayplus and demand a refund from the sender. Get the SHORT CODE from the http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/ number checking facility and send the single word STOP to the shortcode number. To download the Phonepayplus leaflet on Premium rate Diallers go to the site above.
DIALLERS. BT's Modem protection program, downloaded from www.bt.com/btprivacyonline, can now be set up to make sure that your machine will warn you if your machine tries to dial numbers other than the ones you specify. If it happens to you you should come off line immediately and investigate how this has happened. The program is only available to BT customers. This is NOT required for Broadband users, who don't dial.
PHISHING, PHISHING, PHISHING see above also ! The art of getting your bank details from you via the net, so they can rob you blind ! It is very prevalent and quite sophisticated. What is more, the banks are hurting and beginning to say they will look at each case as to whether to compensate you. If they think you have been taken for a mug and not done what you can to prevent this they may not pay out. So, if you see an email from your bank, (or any other) which will look just like the genuine article, with headed notepaper, logo and it asks you for details do just two things. Forward it to your bank or ISP (or both) and then Delete it.
More about 'Phishing'.
Phishing. This is a scam involving e-mails
to people as if from their bank, ISP or Payment organisation. For the
latest go to
They ask for bank details or bank passwords then rob your account.
Cases have risen dramatically during 2003 and are still rising this year.
Fraudsters have targeted customers of online banking services from
Barclays, Nationwide, NatWest and Halifax in recent weeks. Other
organisation are Paypal and Ebay. The scam involves an email that appears
to be from the organisation, which usually asks recipients to click on a
link to a website. The website is designed to look more or less exactly like
the organisation's own but is a front for criminals, often based outside
the UK. Customers are asked to resubmit or 'confirm' details such as Pin
and account numbers or passwords, which criminals can use to steal money
from accounts. Don't do it ! You have been warned ! I have just
seen an example of this on someone's PC. It looked like an e-mail from the
Woolwich suggesting he click on some link. There were two clues that it was
Phishing. One was that they had forgotten to change the date since June and
secondly the printout showed an unrelated comment further down. Also the
English was slightly odd.
A site has been set up to test whether you can tell the real company from the scam one This is one IQ test you can take without fear of it costing you. In fact it might save you having your account robbed See http://survey.mailfrontier.com/survey/phishing_uk.html I have tried the test - and failed (as did most people)
It is good to know that AOL is conducting searches for Phishing e-mails and blocking them for its customers. Both Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox contain software that will warn you of phishing.
Here is an example of what you might see if you go to the site .
The Association of Payment Clearing Services has warned that the incidence of fraudulent on line purchases using stolen credit cards has risen 68% since 2002 and in America the numbers who admitted to having been actually caught by phishing was over two million. But, then again, that is America . And what happens in America......!
It is not just the Internet that is pervaded with Scams. One of the
most rapidly increasing is the card scam which involves the use of an insert
in your bank's card machine. Not only does it collect details from
the card it also has a tiny camera which records the pin which you type in.
Watch out for these cleverly made inserts and report your suspicions to the
Beware of people with mobile phones ! Many mobile phones have small cameras capable of taking video and transmitting it to someone else. So if you are using a credit card someone looking over your shoulder could instantly inform an accomplice of your pin and/or take a picture of your card, complete with the number, name and expiry date. This is all that is needed to order some goods on your card or, if they manage to get your card, to get money from your account.
Another card scam goes like this : The person calling says, 'This is Fred Bloggs (any name) and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. Did you purchase an item for £3497.99 from a marketing company based in (any town?)" When you reply "No" they go on to check your details and use them to buy things on your Visa
The Office of Fair Trading have uncovered 176 UK based websites which violate the online selling regulations. These included 90 "too good to be true" home-working schemes, 52 get-rich-quick schemes, 20 lottery scams, 15 bogus competition sites and 4 offering phony qualifications. I shouldn't think anyone in the USA would even attempt such a survey !
Identity theft is becoming more common. In a recent case a Coventry resident moved house but failed to tell his bank to forward his mail. Soon he discovered that £300 a month was being taken out of his account for charges from six credit card companies. The debt was, by then, many thousands of pounds. It is possible to obtain this sort of information about you by the theft of your post, including the theft of unsigned credit cards. This has increased by over 50% in one year. See www.thisismoney.co.uk. Identity theft has become so profitable that people have taken to looking in rubbish bins for details they can use. These would include household bills (e.g. Gas Account) and, of course, bank statements. So, shred 'em, tear 'em or burn 'em or make them illegible in some way.
Recently there has been an upsurge in fraud involving 'bin scavenging'. People getting hold of bank and Credit card details from unshredded documents you throw out. So be careful to rip up or shred and scatter things like those which appear on statements
Identity theft of a dead person has risen to 80,000 known cases in 2005. One technique used by criminals is to watch for deaths in a newspaper; watch for their house to be sold and even view the house. If they then can pick up mail from the hall they are well on the way to obtaining enough information to apply for a credit card in that person's name. It is therefore VERY important to make sure that deliveries are stopped, especially of domestic bills, which are one of the proofs requested for the opening of accounts. There is an organisation at www.the-bereavement-register.org.uk, which will arrange such things.
It is recommended that you check your credit record at least twice a year. You can obtain a copy of your credit file for £2 by writing to each of the three credit reference agencies Equifax, Experian and Call Credit. Bad debt information is held for six years and you need to take steps to clear this , especially if it is incorrect. A friend arranged to pay a direct debit on the first day of each month. Unfortunately his wages went in a week later. He was surprised to find that he had a bad credit rating due to the occasional bouncing cheque.
Fraud victims can add a notice to their credit files warning future lenders and telling them to ask for a password when dealing with credit applications. They can also join a protective register held by CIFAS, the credit industry fraud avoidance scheme. It costs about £12 and is available through Equifax's service on 0870 010 2091 or visit cifas.org.uk.
A 12-Step Prevention Program for Identity Theft
Even if you're not wealthy, you could put yourself at risk of identity theft if you're not careful. If you don't want to be among the thousands of people who are victims of identity scammers each year, here are some things you can do to protect yourself, both online and offline
Got Caught ? If you believe that you have become a victim of identity theft, quick action can minimize the damage. Here are some steps you should take immediately if you lose your wallet, passport, or birth certificate, if you have a laptop stolen, or if you note suspicious activity on your credit card.
Notify the police in case of fraud or theft, and get a copy of the police report.
Contact your bank and inform them if a credit card or other account may have been compromised.
Ask the credit bureaus to attach a fraud alert to your report.
Contact the post office to see if a change of address has been filed.
Ask your Internet provider for a new password and/or email address.
The Fraud Squad has a list of unlicensed Internet banks into which your hard earned savings may disappear - for ever. A good example is Atl***** Credit. Its postcode is fake, its phone numbers are mobiles and its website is based (once again) in Nigeria. The picture on its website is of an innocent health clinic in California ! Beware also the C**y Express Bank with a fictitious address in London. One such is part of an international fraud in which people are told they have won a huge lottery prize but have to pay some fees and taxes up front. For a full list of fake banks go to www.thisismoney.co.uk and look under Savings
My experience. A contact wanted to sell a car on line and I assisted by putting an advert on an appropriate site. Within a day he had an offer of the full price. All he had to do was to accept a cheque for a larger amount and then send the balance ( a four figure sum) to the buyer. Tim Hanks (Met Police) said it was a popular scam and if he had sent a cheque before clearing the one he received that would be the last he saw of his money. The scam cheque duly arrived courtesy FedEx and was paid in. The bank rang soon after to say it was a 'bouncer'. I was surprised that there was not more pressure in the various e-mails to send a cheque back before the received one was cleared. I now know why. Since then I have heard of someone who received a cheque. As Natwest cleared it he went ahead and sent off his cheque. Later, Natwest renaged on their clearance and insisted they were in the right. After pressure from a national newspaper they repented. So you can't even rely on bank clearance these days.
Netherlands Nabs Nigerian Scammers Jan. 2004 - Dutch police have arrested 52 people suspected of defrauding gullible Internet users in one of the largest busts of the infamous "Nigerian e-mail" scam. That only leaves 59,948 left to find !
Spoof addresses. It would be easy for me to make any link on my pages go to ANY address. i.e. I could program it to take you to www.Fullof Nasty ScamsandViruses.com. So, when you click on an address, just check what it is saying in the address line (or what it says at the bottom of the page when you hover the mouse over it. e.g. www.microsoft.com If it contains ANYTHING other than the correct address don't be surprised if you finish up somewhere else. Quite legitimate businesses are up to this to increase their click rates ! If you would like some software that will check the authenticity of a website try Verification Engine from www.vengine.com
Escrow fraud. Payments for goods (especially from auctions) are often made through an Escrow intermediary company. If you are requested to make payment via a different Escrow service DON'T DO IT ! Because the chances are you are being scammed.
The latest I have heard about is the Blackmail scam. You are told
that your PC is vulnerable to an attack which will delete files or add child
porn to it unless you pay $30.
Don't pay but make sure your security systems are intact. Print a copy of the email and report it to the police.
Phone scams are rife and most are not even illegal !
PARCEL SCAM WARNING You receive a card through your door from a company call PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) saying that they have a parcel awaiting delivery instructions and can you contact them on 0906 6611911. This was NOT a hoax and people were charged £1.50 a minute but it has been closed down by our friends at ICTIS. But watch out.
www.bt.com/premiumrates will give you an idea of BT's policy on the dialler problem. Whilst UK 0900 and 0909 numbers can be blocked free their full Call Barring service can cost up to £1.75 a month and they will NOT reimburse you if you get caught on one of these scams.
A friend recently found that he had an extra £19 on his phone bill for calls to Diego Garcia ( a small island in the Indian Ocean used by the United States military). I advised him to phone BT and block that particular number, to complain to them and to inform http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/. Surprisingly, on this occasion BT agreed to reduce his bill and they also advised that he inform ICSTIS. But meanwhile some crafty Diego Garcia resident has found a new get rich quick scheme and is probably quids in.
The Biter Bit . However, one US Porn dialler (BTW) has been shut down and fined £75,000 by the UK watchdog ICSTIS. It has been ordered to reimburse UK users after they were stung for hundreds of pounds. Dial-up surfers were disconnected from their usual service and connected to a service costing £1.50 a minute. See http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/ (tel. 0800 500212) Good for them! The company has been ordered to reimburse those it ripped off but they will have to make a claim against the company. I wonder if they will get anything. They are now issuing permits to those sites that can legitimately use premium numbers and refusing them to others. BT and cable companies will not be able to lease premium rate numbers unless a company has a permit.
To download the leaflet on Porn Diallers go to http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/
If you go to the site you can type in the number that appeared on your bill and it will tell you whether it is currently under investigation
If you get a call originating from the Caribbean asking you to ring a number regarding an outstanding bill you are charged at $25 a minute!
These are the charges for various phone numbers
0800 and 0808 Free except from a mobile.
0845 Local rate but always charged, whatever plan you
have. 0870 About double local rate. 0871 11.7 pence per
min. And the ones to watch for are 0900 and 0909. This can be charged
from 10p to £1.50 per minute with the perpetrator getting up
to 80% of it.
Mind you, everyone is up to that sort of thing. You can even pay Premium charges by answering silly questions asked at the end of TV Travel programs or trying to get yourself on TV to win a million. And I have had to switch off my fax because I get controversial questions sent to me and I am supposed to fax my verdict (at a pound a minute !) And these are legitimate. Even if you fax back that you are not interested they get a rake off.
I heard of a new one recently. Someone knocks at your door and says they have broken down and can they use your phone. What they do is phone a particularly expensive premium number. And by chance the call happens to take a long time. They offer to pay for the call but being a generous sort of person your refuse payment. When you get your phone bill you wish you hadn't !
Another scam is where someone manages to change the telephone number you call when you go on the net. (See Virus page) It happens to be a Premium number - sometimes in the Caribbean or an island off Africa called Sao Tome. You don't realise until you get your phone bill. More likely than this is the possibility of someone clicking on a site which makes a Premium charge to your telephone account. This is a common practice for what I will term 'Glamour' sites. http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/ is receiving 2 - 3000 complaints a day about this !! They are doing what they can to block such numbers.
I had THREE reports from people who say an IQ test appeared at the top
of what seemed to be a perfectly normal site.(it varies, one is Hotmail)
One person was being charged £28 even without taking the test. The
other was charged £1 a minute for 15 minutes whilst he took the test.
It seems likely that these 'popups' come from a site which purports
to give you an IQ test. So beware ! Apparently there is nothing
to suggest at any time that there will be a charge and the cost mounts
up, even after you have left the site !.
It is, therefore, VITAL that you come off line after visiting this site. I think you should also report this to your local branch of Trading standards, found at https://www.gov.uk/ and http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk/, who deal with complaints over premium numbers. N.B. I think this organisation has finally been slapped down
PHONEPAYPLUS writes: We are aware of this site and
have undertaken an investigation to ensure that the use of the number becomes
compliant with our Code of Practice. For a refund of the charges, you will
need to put your claim to the company responsible for the line. Phonepayplus
is a non-statutory body, and therefore cannot enforce a refund to be given
to you. You will need to write direct to the company concerned enclosing
a copy of the call charges and a letter to explain your complaint. Write
to : Tele Team Work Aps DK, Gydevang 39-41, 3450 Allerod, Denmark Contact:
Mr Neils Jalbo
Another scam reported by Channel 4 involves people being pressured into buying worthless shares and parting with thousands.
Be careful where you buy from on the net. Just because a site has Verisign and TRUSTe certificates plus the Padlock icon it doesn't mean they are safe. Click on the padlock. If it reveals nothing it means it is just a little picture, not a secure site. Having said that, I have bought many items over the net and have not had any problems. And a recent survey shows 40% of Computer Active bought something for Christmas this way. The shops are beginning to moan about falling sales. It is inevitable. The Dotcom boom was just to much, too soon. But on-line buying is finally taking off.
It has now been found that some Certification Authorities (CAs) have been issuing certificates to Internet sellers without thoroughly checking the seller. This could mean that the gold padlock sign seen when you open a web shopping page could be worthless. Verisign, and other CAs have agreed to tighten up the procedure. Eventually, your address bar will turn red, yellow or green, indicating the level of security. A red one shouldn't be touched with a barge pole. Although other Browsers, such as Firefox, will do this quite soon Internet Explorer will not do this until Version 7, scheduled for January 2007.
Trading Standards report an increase in the number of fake electronic gadgets e.g. The Canomatic camera, which looks like it is made by Canon.. In my travels I can remember seeing rolls of famous clothing labels on sale in Istanbul and Cartepillar boots and a sign in Bodrum, Turkey : "Genuine Fake Watches for Sale" !
A frequent scam is for companies to receive mail which informs them that it is an offence not to register under the Data Protection Act and would they send £75 for this to be done. This can be followed up by a 'Final warning'. The impression given is that it is an official warning. Registration (if companies keep personal records on computer) is a requirement but registration costs much less than that.
One of the most frequent scams is from Nigeria. It promises you a great deal of money. They will transfer this to your bank account if you can help them launder it in some way but first, would you like to give them your bank particulars..... Surprisingly people get into this type of thing spurred on by greed and finish up sending money to Nigeria - often quite willingly. There is one born every second they say. It is one of the major Nigerian businesses and has netted millions.
If AOL people receive an email message you suspect to be a hoax, scam or contain a virus, report it at AOL Keyword: Notify AOL. Once there, click on Email to submit details to AOL's Conditions of Service staff, who will take appropriate action.
Firewall programs. It is getting increasingly necessary (VITAL) to install a firewall program on your computer - such as Zone Alarm. Without this it is possible for people to access your computer without your knowledge. Do you keep a list of passwords on it somewhere ? I know that frequent access attempts are made to my computer. They are probably automated. Recently, if I have taken my Zone Alarm off (in order to video conference) I have had advertisements (for firewalls!) appear on my screen, telling me that my machine is unprotected, or contains porn - which it doesn't. XP has its own Firewall. Some people have had problems with the latest Zone Alarm (5) and it is recommended that you stick to Version 4.5 or the EZfirewall Lite version found with the Microsoft Security Update disk (SP1).
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