Protecting yourself online during the covid-19 pandemic
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Since the coronavirus pandemic changed the way in which we work and communicate with one another, there has been a noticeable increase in cybercrime and fraud offences sweeping across the country.
Scams can come in many forms and is an incredibly sophisticated crime, making it more difficult to distinguish genuine messages from the fake.
With people having to rely on digital tools it is now more important than ever to be vigilant online, especially where personal and/or financial information is being shared. Almost anyone can be targeted, however, there are certain things to look out for and methods to protect yourself to ensure that you don’t become a victim of fraud.
PHISHING EMAILS AND TEXTS
COVID-19 themed phishing emails and texts have been circulating, containing links and attachments attempting to coerce people into divulging personal or financial information.
In particular, look out for messages claiming to be from the UK Government, HRMC or NHS Test and Trace. If you receive a text or email that asks you to click on a link or for you to provide information such as your name, credit card or bank details, it's a scam.
Any text message containing a link should be treated with caution. The best way to find information from GOV.UK, or any other agency, is to visit that particular website via a trusted source and do not click on links in unsolicited texts or emails.
MALWARE AND SPAM ATTACKS
Scammers have been sending out malicious Covid-19 related emails, many containing malware in attached documents and other files supposedly connected to Coronavirus. If opening a document or link containing malware, it can contain a virus or spyware which fraudsters will use to gain access to your network and personal data. If unsure, do not open any attachments, run an anti-virus software on your device and delete any suspicious emails.
These crimes usually involve a fraudster calling members of an organisation’s employees in the attempt to trick them into revealing information such as a username and password. They often do this by pretending to be from someone from the organisation’s IT department.
TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THESE SCAMS
- Open attachments or click on links in emails or texts from senders you don’t know.
- Give out personal information, financial details or passwords in response to an email, text or phone call without verifying that the person is who they claim to be.
- Keep all devices and antivirus software up-to-date.
- Block any numbers that arouse suspicion.
- Regularly check your mailbox for suspicious activity, including your sent items.
- Set up spam filters on all of your accounts.
- Review your devices privacy and security settings.
- Keep strong and unique passwords. For another layer of security, add 2-factor or multi-factor authentication.
- Always go to a website directly, by typing out the address yourself, when logging into an account.
- Look out for fake websites - sense-check the domain name.
- Regularly back up your data.
REPORTING A CYBERCRIME
We all make mistakes and these days the scams can be incredibly convincing. If you think you, or someone you know has been a victim of online fraud:
Report the offence to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via their website https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/.
The new COVID Fraud Hotline (0800 587 5030) has also been set up by in partnership with Crimestoppers to enable individuals to report fraud within the public sector during the pandemic. There is also an online reporting feature which can be found here: http://covidfraudhotline.org
If you need to seek further advice you can contact us via one of the following methods:
- Facebook: send us a private message to /DerbyshireConstabulary
- Twitter: direct message our contact centre on @DerPolContact
- Website: complete the online contact form derbyshire.police.uk/Contact-Us.
- Phone: call us on 101.