Monthly talk

It has become a tradition at Beccles U3A for the monthly meeting to be followed by a Guest Speaker. As you will see from the list below, the subjects are very varied. With topics ranging from a personal story of climbing Mount Everest to the incredible story of the 25-year strike at our local Burston School, they are not to be missed.

The monthly talk takes place immediately after the Monthly Meeting on the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 10.30 at Beccles Public Hall.


Wed 17th October 2018:- Cathy Small Protecting against Fraud

Cathy Small and her colleagues Alicia and Mary from Santander gave an extremely informative talk on protecting yourself from fraud. There was also a considerable amount of audience participation and this report includes Cathy’s presentation plus other information which arose at the meeting. The subject has been reported in full but a summary of the top 10 tips is featured below.

Top 10 tips
1. Don’t automatically believe every email, text or phone call is genuine
2. Don’t click on links if you are not 100% sure who has sent it
3. Don’t share personal information on social media for everyone to see
4. Ensure you have strong passwords which cannot be guessed and change them regularly
5. Shred all sensitive information – do not put straight into the bin
6. Pay by credit cards which have a level of fraud protection built in
7. Don’t let your card out of your sight when making a transaction at restaurants, bars and clubs
8. Shop only on secure websites. Before submitting card details, look for a padlock or an unbroken key symbol on your web browser
9. Try to limit use of cash machines to those inside your bank
10. Don’t be pressurised into taking action. Take a moment to evaluate, do an online search or talk to someone else

Telephone calls
Fraudsters phone pretending to be from your bank, the police, or other well-known organisations. They do it to get you to send money, let them access your bank account or take control of your device to steal your personal data. Stop and think – is this call genuine? Telephone fraudsters sound convincing and professional. Here are a few tips on how you can protect yourself and tell a genuine phone call from a scam.

1 Do you really know who is calling? If the call is unexpected, then they might not be who they say they are. If you’re not sure, say you’ll call back. Always use a trusted number (not the number the caller is using or asks you to use), and don’t assume a caller is from your bank etc. even if your caller ID says that it is. For your bank, use the number on the back of your card. If the caller says they are from the Police you can call back on 101. And use another phone to call as the fraudster may stay online and hear all your details.

2 Don’t believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real.

3 Is the caller putting pressure on you? Fraudsters want to create a sense of urgency to force you to make quick decision. Don’t trust anyone trying to hurry you up.

Never let a caller trick you into transferring your money. Never transfer money if a caller says you must do this for “security purposes” to a “safe/secure/holding account”. Fraudsters might tell you that you are due a refund, or that you must complete a test transaction. Banks never ask you to do this so hang up the phone!

4 Don’t log on to your computer for a caller. If an unexpected caller claims there is something wrong with your computer or asks you to download something, this is almost certainly a con. The caller might claim to be from a broadband provider or trusted software company (even the one you use). But unless you asked for this phone call, it is likely to be a fraud.

5 If a caller asks you to log on to your computer, tell them you’ll make you own arrangements and hang up (or say you don’t own a computer). Never tell a caller what you can see on your screen or allow anyone remote access (control of your machine) unless it's a company that you called first.

6 You can block unwanted callers on BT lines by dialling 1572 after you have hung up from the call. Other phone companies have similar facilities.

Suspicious emails and texts
Is the email asking for financial and personal info? Fraudsters pretend to be well-known companies: be wary even if you think you recognise the sender. Genuine companies never ask for Internet Banking log on details or card details in an email. Don’t reply, and don’t click on any links or attachments.

Do you know who really sent the email? - If in doubt, phone the company on a trusted number or visit their website by typing their web address directly into the address bar. Don't click on a link or copy and paste from the email itself.

Is the email trying to scare you into action? Emails from reputable companies should sound reasonable and calm. Phishing emails often contain threats of account suspension or immediate risk of fraud.

Another sign is that scam emails often look odd, with a messy layout and spelling mistakes.

Protecting your devices
There are threats that can harm your devices even if you’re not aware that anything is wrong. But there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself.
Remember - always log off from your Internet Banking and lock your device with a PIN or password. Never leave it unlocked and unattended, and safeguard your device.
You can keep most viruses out if you:

1 Keep up to date. Always keep your operating system (like Windows or iOS), your internet browser (like Internet Explorer) and software up-to-date.
2 Use anti-virus software. Install it on your computer, keep it up-to-date and make sure it scans at least once a week. Act when prompted. Don’t keep putting it off – it’s there to protect you. It should tell you when a site is unsafe to visit or a file is unsafe to open.
3 Download carefully. Never download files and programmes unless you are absolutely certain they are genuine and come from a source you trust. Always download mobile apps from an official store such as the App Store or Google Play.
4 Never switch off your firewall - unless you’re a computer expert and know what you’re doing.
5 Never use the password that came with your Wi-Fi router or hub - Change it to a strong password; something that no one can guess or use without your permission.
6 Only connect to secure Wi-Fi - if you use Wi-Fi on the go, make sure you’re using a genuine, secure connection. Fraudsters can set up hotspots in cafes and other public areas. You should avoid logging onto online accounts that store any payment or banking info (like Internet Banking, Paypal or online shopping sites) if you’re using public or free Wi-Fi.

Protecting yourself online
Protect yourself by using security settings, PINs and passwords wherever you can. Choose secure passwords, don’t share them and change them often. Use a different password for every website.
Use a different password for every website. If your data is stolen from any of the sites you use and your passwords are the same, criminals will try them on other accounts.
Don’t use anything obvious. Choose carefully; don’t make it too short or easy. Don’t use your child or pet’s name, birthdays or anything else that can easily be guessed. An easy way to create a strong password is to combine three completely unrelated words. For example: Table, rainy and clever together make Tablerainyclever. And then include a number to strengthen it even further.

Try not to write passwords down. If you have to – avoid writing them down in full, keep them in a safe place and don’t mention what they are for.
Social media security

1 Always think twice before sharing information online. Could a criminal use the information to guess your passwords or commit identity theft?
2 Think carefully about what you post in Tweets, on Facebook, Instagram and other social media. Think about what information you should not share online such as date of birth, address, when you are on holiday, when you are planning to go to the cinema etc. Information about your family can be used for identity theft and to hack your account.
3 Set your account to private on social media. Don’t forget to check your privacy settings on websites like Facebook and Twitter regularly.
4 Only connect on social media with people you know in real life. Remember that your friends’ real accounts might be ‘cloned’ by a fraudster. If you’re not sure, contact your friend directly.
5 Check a person’s identity if you get a strange request on social media or by email. Don’t respond if you’re unsure who you’re talking to. Don’t send money or share your account details.

Rogue traders
There are many types of rogue traders. One common type is the doorstep callers who target areas offering small household products for sale. These callers may claim to be ex-convicts attempting to mend their ways, however they are not part of any recognised rehabilitation scheme.

Please warn your neighbours not to open the door to strangers or buy or sell on the doorstep. Some doorstep callers may offer poor quality goods at inflated prices and if a caller is not genuine, they may be gathering information for future crime.

They may show a card which claims to be a “Pedlars Licence” or work permit. This is not valid and they are breaking the law if they are using anything like this. They may also hand over a card saying they are deaf or dumb.

According to the police, the bag of household products is supplied by someone who employs them. The lads are supplied with a full bag of household products and charged a minimal sum for the contents – it used to be £35. They can keep whatever they make, above this amount.

Usually they are deposited in an area from a transit van and given a list of streets to work. An hour or so later they are picked up and dropped off in another location. They often work from 9am to 9pm.

They will knock on a door, offering cleaning items which they know are cheap and of very poor quality. Many people will purchase items and pay them something, just to get rid of them as they can be very persistent and confrontational.

The price for whatever has been purchased usually comes to a note – usually £10. The householder disappears to get this – this is when the scam begins, according to the police. When the note is handed over, the lad examines the condition and how long it took the person to get it. If it is crumpled, they accept it and move on. If it is crisp flat and new – they are much more interested and may engage the person in more conversation, to obtain details about them. As they leave they will smell the note. If it is slightly musty – this is an indication that there is more in the property. Those addresses are noted. The addresses of elderly / vulnerable / gullible people are all noted.

These are handed to the employer and there is a small amount of cash handed over for each one. These addresses are then sold in prisons and pubs. If there is a later break-in, the employer expects a further cut of the proceeds.

These lists are purchased by all sorts of people including – tarmac-ers, tree workers, roofers, dodgy builders etc., and can be shared amongst the travelling community. Once on a list, your address could be sold on and on. Hence the repeat nature of these persistent callers.

Police advise that in almost every case of a stop check – the lads have long strings of convictions for burglary and violence. They use the skills learnt during their criminal activity to identify possible targets.

Always politely turn them away - if cold callers don’t get any sales in your area, they are less likely to return.

It is a good idea to obtain a sticker to put on your door advising that you don’t buy from cold callers. They may ignore this but it will give you an easy way to deal with them on the doorstep as it is often difficult to think of an immediate response when they are right in front of you. You can get these from your police station or online for a pound or two.

Money mules
A money mule is someone recruited by a criminal organisation as a money laundering intermediary to receive and transfer illegally-obtained funds between bank accounts or countries. This money muling helps fund other forms of organised crime, such as drug dealing, human trafficking, terrorism and online fraud.

Have you been asked to help someone in financial difficulty by receiving funds and then returning some of the funds to another person or organisation? If so be very wary as these could be scams and a criminal could be trying to recruit you as a money mule to transfer and disguise the money as proceeds of crime.

In summary there are always those looking for ways to part us from our money and we all need to be extra vigilant to avoid this from happening to us.

Thank you Vicki John for writing this important report, I urge everyone to read it.

Wed 21 November 2018:- Richard Hughes from the Assembly House in Norwich - A Career in the Hospitality Industry

Wed 19 December 2018:- Christmas Meeting

Wed 16 January 2019:- Dr Stephen Ashworth Lasers - how they work

Wed 20 February 2019:- Graham Higgins Tales from the Bench - a magistrate reviews his work

Wed 20 March 2019:- Sally Dearman Women CAN fly - a female pilot talks of her experiences

Review Past Monthly Talks