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Hoax Calls

As our businesses have moved towards digital convenience, criminals have moved online, too. Below are some tips to help you keep your data safe.

The rise of online scams

In recent years, it feels like the whole world has moved online, with less and less face-to-face interaction. Grocery shopping and booking holidays on the other side of the world can now be done at our convenience by just clicking a few buttons.

It’s estimated that the cost of fraud in the UK is between £130bn – £190bn a year, with people more likely to fall victim to fraud or cyber offenses than any other crime. That’s why it’s incredibly important for all of us to make sure that we’re protecting our personal information as we do our valuable possessions.

Unexpected or suspicious phone calls

If you’re not expecting a call from an organisation or you receive a call from an organisation that you’ve never interacted with before, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask the purpose of the call before entering into a conversation. If you’re not reassured by the answer, ask that they put their requirements to you in writing at the address they have on file, any reputable organisation will be happy to do this if you have concerns.

Sometimes, criminals can ‘spoof’ the phone number of genuine companies to try to make themselves seem legitimate. If you’re suspicious about the reason for the call or have concerns about the information that you’re being asked to provide, just advise that caller that you will call them back at a more convenient time. Then hang up and wait for half an hour and call the organisation back on the number from their website, never use the call back function on your phone as this may take you back to the original caller. Alternatively, you can ask the caller to put their requirements to you in writing at the address that they have on file.

Pressure Selling

If you’re being asked to make an important decision on the spot, you should be certain that you understand what is being asked and the implications of your decision. If you have some doubts or would like to discuss it with someone else before you make a decision, you should be free to do this. If you’re being pressured into making a decision too quickly, particularly where money is involved, it could be that what sounds too good to be true really is too good to be true.

Step back from the situation until you’re comfortable that you’re making the right decision for yourself. Most reputable companies will have a cancellation policy or cooling-off period, you should ask for a copy of this in writing and read it carefully, if there is no option to change your mind, this can be a sign that something is not as it seems.

Emails & Hacking

If you have an email account, you likely receive lots of junk emails from organisations that you’ve never heard of. These are easy to ignore, most of the time we don’t even need to open them, we can just hit the delete button. However, email accounts can get hacked and malicious emails can then be sent to contacts stored in the account address book, looking like it comes from a friend, colleague, or perhaps a trusted organisation. There are a few simple checks that you can do to help you decide whether the email is genuine.

Hover the cursor over the email address of the sender, if it doesn’t match the email address that you have for this contact or organisation, it’s likely the email is malicious.

What is the email requiring from you? Is it asking for information or is the email providing information to you? If you’re being asked to provide information, you should be more cautious.

If there’s a link in the email, you can hover the cursor over the link, this will display the address for the website you’re being directed to. Before you click the link, check the organisation’s official website to make sure they match.

You should be cautious when opening an attachment, if possible, use your anti-virus software to scan it before opening. If this is not possible, consider whether there is another way that you can validate that it’s genuine. Look at a trusted source like a previous letter or company website to obtain contact information so you can get in touch with the sender to verify the attachment before opening.

Read more

You can find more tips for keeping safe online by visiting the Action Fraud website Sometimes fraudsters pretend to be contacting you from or on behalf of a law firm. This is because people trust the legal profession to act with honesty and integrity. The Solicitors Regulation Authority website allows you to check for scams relating to law firms, as well as validating the credentials of Regulated Law Firms.