Posted on 8th March 2016
Do you really know how to protect yourself from phishing scams?
Police are teaming up to help raise awareness of phishing scams after Action Fraud revealed that it receives 8,000 reports every month.
New data released by Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau shows that increasingly fraudsters are using phishing as a means to defraud people across the UK.
Between January and December last year, the fraud and cybercrime reporting centre received on average 8,000 reports per month, with 96,699 people reporting that they had received a phishing scam.
Phishing involves fraudsters purporting to be from legitimate companies in order to steal money or gain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details. The phishing scams often take place through email, pop-up messages, phone calls or text messages.
Fraudsters use phishing as means to hook victims into their scams and they are well practiced in making these as convincing as possible.
In one month, 31 percent of all phishing scams reported to Action Fraud contained a potentially malicious hyperlink, which upon clicking could install malware onto the victim’s computer or phone or trick them into providing sensitive information.
Analysis of reports made to Action Fraud revealed that phishing emails used specific subject headings as a means to ensure that the reader would feel compelled to open them. The most common message title for phishing emails is ‘Attention’ followed by other titles such as ‘Your account has been revoked’, ‘Hello’ and ‘Important Notification’.
Deputy Head of Action Fraud, Steve Proffitt said: “The new figures show that phishing is a problem which is not going away; it is a means for fraudsters to test the water with potential victims and see how many people they can hook into a scam.
“For the fraudsters, it is a low risk way of casting out their net and seeing what they can catch. If their emails are convincing enough they can yield high returns and people can easily be persuaded into parting with money or to click on links which then infect their computer with malicious software.
“In order to avoid becoming a victim we urge people to be cautious when opening emails and ask them to follow our protection advice in order to make it as difficult as possible for fraudsters who are simply casting around for their next victim”.
Behaviours that can put you most at risk from phishing scams include opening attachments, or clinking on links within emails that are unsolicited or unexpected, responding to emails that ask for your personal or financial details, and logging in to a webpage that you have arrived at via a link in an email.
Top tips for protecting yourself against phishing scams include:
- Don’t open attachments or click on the links within any unsolicited emails you receive, and never respond to emails that ask for your personal or financial details. Remember, you can hover over a link to see where it will really take you.
- An email address can be spoofed, so even if the email appears to be from a person or a company you know of, but the message is unexpected or unusual then contact the sender directly via another method to confirm that they sent you the email.
- If you receive an email which asks you to login to an online account, for example due to suspicious activity on your account, instead of clicking on the link provided in the email, go directly to the website yourself.
For more information around frauds and scams visit the dedicated Stamp out Fraud in Derbyshire webpage at www.derbyshire.police.uk/stampoutfraud.
If you have been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit the website at: www.actionfraud.police.uk