Stanway in Colchester

FRAUD ALERTS

CRIMINALS WILL USE ANY OPPORTUNITY TO TRY TO STEAL YOUR MONEY OR IDENTITY, USING TEXTS, EMAILS, PHONE CALLS, OR BY JUST CALLING AT YOUR DOOR.

KEY MESSAGES FROM CYBERCRIME ZOOM PRESENTATION ON 23 APRIL 2021:

  • Never "CLICK HERE" on an unsolicited email.
  • Never "Press 1" to find our more or rectify a supposed account issue during a phone call or from a text received from an unknown source.
  • Make sure your Email password is unique and secure, and must not used be for any other purpose.
  • Never allow an unsolicited caller to have access to your device, even if they have given you a fictitious story that you have a fault.

On this page:

1. Latest scam updates from Essex Police and other sources - April & May 2021
2. COVID-19 Related scams
3. Courier and Delivery scams
4. Phone and Internet service scams
5. Bank and other account scams
6. TV Licence scams
7. Investment scams
8. Other scams
9. Online Safety advice
10. Protecting yourself and your device
11. Reporting Fraud

1. LATEST SCAM UPDATES.

  • Take care when responding to social media games and quizzes, some of these are designed to trick you into giving out information that could help criminals steal your identity or guess your passwords - see Social Media Games and Quiz Advice from Essex Police.
  • Scammers are trying to trick people into providing copies of driving licences or passports to prove your identity. Be wary of any unsolicited callers asking for these types of documents. This is linked to the HMRC, NI number and computer fault scams. See Personal Documents Scam for details.
  • if you are tempted to use online dating sites be sure to read the new Romance Fraud Booklet produced by Essex Police, full of advice on how to stay safe from romance fraudsters.
  • DHL delivery scam asks you to download a parcel tracking app. Do not do this as it installs spyware that will steal your passwords. See Flubot fraud alert from Essex Police for more information and what to do if you have installed the rogue app. Whilst this primarily affects Android users and uses DHL this could find its way onto other devices in future.
  • See the first (April 2021) edition of Essex Police new publication on organised crime, concentrating on Catalytic converters theft and how to guard against it.
  • Beware when downloading apps from both Apple and Google app stores that offer free trials then charge you exorbitant fees unless you cancel your subscription properly. See this update from Essex Police entitled Fleeceware, the new term coined for this scam.
  • There has been a recent increase in rogue traders mis-selling solar panels and associated maintenance contracts/warranties/battery replacements etc. See Solar panel scam for details.
  • Beware of texts and emails claiming you’ve missed a Royal Mail delivery. People are losing money through this clever scam. See Royal mail Text scam from Essex Police, and further details at item 3 below.
  • Email and social media account hacking is on the increase - make sure your passwords are strong and use a different password for each account. See the advice at item 10 further down this page.
  • See Essex Police Alert 12 March about the latest scams if you are looking to buy festival/event tickets. Over 200 people fell victim to this fraud in February - over £270,000 reported lost.
  • Holiday scams are prevalent following the lockdown exit roadmap announcement. We are all eager for a holiday after the last year, but criminals will look to profit from the sudden surge in holiday bookings by offering products that do not exist. Ensure you read Holiday Scams before booking your break.

2. COVID-19 RELATED SCAMS

  • Be aware of criminals trying to trick you into paying for a COVID-19 test or vaccination - see: COVID-19 Vaccine Fraud. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR A COVID-19 TEST OR VACCINATION
  • Calls claiming to be from NHS Track and Trace - see document Track and Trace Fraud Alert for details of how the new system works and how to avoid scammers.
  • Claims that due to Coronavirus measures you are to receive a payment, or are being fined for breaking lockdown restrictions.
  • fake emails claiming to be from health organisations (such as the World Health Organisation), with attached ‘safety advice’ which when clicked downloads malware to infect the device.
  • claims that the government has introduced a new tax refund programme due to COVID-19 and you are entitled to a sum of money. Criminals are spoofing the email address of a genuine UK government brand (noreply@hm-revenue.gov.uk) to trick recipients.
  • Beware of unexpected callers at your door claiming that they represent the NHS or other authority doing on-site tests for Covid-19, or they have been sent to help you with your shopping.

3. COURIER AND DELIVERY SCAMS

  • Beware of emails or texts supposedly from Royal Mail, DPD or other couriers claiming a parcel could not be delivered. Here are some Royal Mail scam examples from their official website. Don't be tricked into following the link in these fraudulent messages and providing your personal details or paying for "re-delivery". Ignore these messages and contact Royal Mail directly to check the status of a delivery using a trusted number or use the delivery company’s official website. Contact your bank immediately if you think you have fallen for this scam and report to Action Fraud (see item 11 below). Read the full details from Essex Police here: Delivery Fraud
  • Unexpected Deliveries of Packages by Couriers. If goods are delivered that you have not ordered and are marked with your address you should either refuse to accept the parcel or inform the company that sent it and wait for them to send a courier. Crooks order goods such as iPhones, tablets etc to be sent to someone else's address, wait for them to be delivered, then send someone round to collect it claiming to be from the company that sent it. This is a scam.
  • See also the Courier Fraud poster in the sidebar.

4. PHONE SERVICE AND INTERNET SERVICE SCAMS

  • Read the December 2020 Essex Police notice regarding fake calls claiming to be from BT about internet problems.
  • Beware of calls claiming your internet or phone service is going to be cut off unless you pay to continue the service - these are scams.
  • Calls claiming your computer has a virus and the caller needs remote access to your computer to fix it. DO NO ALLOW THIS as scammers are after your personal details and money.
  • Watch out for calls from numbers that look familiar - the number can be modified by the scammer to appear to come from someone you know or a bank, government organisation etc. See Phone number spoofing for more details.
  • Similarly, e-mail addresses can be modified to mask the real email address, see Identify Email Spoofing for advice on how to spot this.

5. BANK & OTHER ACCOUNT SCAMS

  • claims that there is a problem with your bank account and you need to take some action to prevent fraud. Banks, Police and other authorities will never phone and ask for your PIN or password. Hang up and use a different phone to call your bank on the number on your card to check. Never agree to hand your cards to a "courier" - for more detail see the Courier Fraud poster in the sidebar.
  • claims that your Amazon Prime account fees are changing, or your account is being suspended, or needs to be renewed. More recent scams claim that an account was opened fraudulently and you need to give remote access to your computer, or to provide bank details so you can be refunded.

6. TV LICENCE SCAMS

  • fraudsters are exploiting the confusion around TV licence fee charging for older people. No one will be expected to pay for a new licence until they are contacted by letter from TV Licensing.

7. INVESTMENT SCAMS

  • Beware of these investment and other offers for making money that sound too good to be true - they usually are!.
  • London Capital & Finance (LCF) bondholders should be wary of messages inviting them to discuss compensation about LCF. Check with the Financial Services Compensation Scheme Contact Team.

These messages usually have a link that leads you to genuine looking websites which are intended to steal your bank details. Always treat such correspondence with suspicion and check with someone you trust before responding.

8. WATCH FOR THESE OTHER SCAMS

  • "Sextortion" emails citing a password you have used (usually an old one) and trying to get money by saying they know you have been viewing adult sites. Do not pay any money over, see this Which? article about this scam and How to respond.
  • Romance Fraud - Have they stolen your heart? Make sure they don’t steal anything else – make sure you know how to protect yourself with online dating, see Romance Frauds, the Romance fraud poster and the BBC article link in the sidebar.
  • Callers allegedly raising money for charity or other good causes.
  • Claims that your Council Tax banding may have changed and you are due a refund.
  • Callers claiming they are from a gas, water or electricity company and need to check for leaks.
  • Callers claiming you need some roof or other building repairs - use traders who you trust or have used before, alternatively Trading Standards have a Buy With Confidence scheme of approved traders.

Using these and similar pretexts, cold callers are trying to gain entry to people's houses and distract them whilst they or an accomplice steals items of value. Watch this Cold Callers Video video from Trading Standards.

Please help protect our more vulnerable residents by warning them not to allow anyone like that into their homes and to follow official advice (as obtained via www.gov.uk) or by phoning 111.

9. ONLINE SAFETY - Beware of:

  • Fraudulent websites offering an antivirus program to protect users against the Coronavirus (YES - people do fall for this!). Fraudsters trick users into installing malware that could infect the user’s device. Once access has been obtained, the fraudster could act as a legitimate user but use this access to steal data and seek financial gain.
  • Fake websites and suspicious links. Criminals will advertise products they know to be in short supply, such as hand sanitiser, face masks and ‘treatments’. Claims like ‘100% safe’, ‘No side effects’ and ‘Quick results’ should be warning signs to avoid these.
  • Sites that look like banks etc. Before signing in to any banking sites or carrying out any financial transactions online check there is a “padlock” in the site address bar and it begins with 'https'.
  • Free sample offers that take your card details and trick you into signing up for direct debits.

10. PROTECTING YOURSELF AND YOUR DEVICE:

  • Use strong passwords and keep them safe. Never use the same password on another account. You can visit the "haveIbeenpwned" web site to check Is my password safe to use? and if not you should change it immediately. Consider using a Password Manager to help you manage your passwords and they can check that you have sufficiently strong passwords.
  • Ensure you keep your phone/tablet/computer protected by using antivirus and internet security software, and installing the latest system and software/app updates as these often fix security loopholes. Always use a verified trusted source for software updates and turn on automatic updates.
  • Turn on 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) to log into online accounts where possible. This is a way to double check the identity of a person when logging in e.g. by sending a security code to a mobile phone. Cyber criminals in possession of a password can’t access the account unless they have this "second factor".
  • When shopping or banking online, always check that the address bar shows ‘https’ and log out when done. The padlock sign means that the connection is encrypted, so personal information will reach the site without anyone else being able to read it. Use a credit card, as most major providers insure online purchases.
  • Form filling: There are details that an online store will need, such as address and bank details, be cautious if they ask for details not required for purchases. Only fill in the mandatory details on forms (usually marked with an asterisk).
  • Get Safe Online is a public / private sector partnership supported by HM Government and leading organisations in banking, retail, internet security and other sectors. Click on the link to get access to a wealth of detailed information on how to protect yourself and your electronic devices.

11. REPORTING FRAUD.

  • If you or someone you know is vulnerable and has been a victim of fraud, please call Essex Police on 101.
  • You can also report fraud or attempted fraud by clicking on Action Fraud or calling 0300 123 2040.
  • You can report suspicious emails to the National Cyber Security Centre by email to: report@phishing.gov.uk. Action will be taken to investigate and block or remove these from circulation.