Lock your virtual doors
This article is taken from our spring 2021 edition of Equinox. You can view the full version here.
With 88% of UK data breaches caused by human error, it’s important to stay vigilant with your information. Here are six common types of scams and our top five tips to avoid falling victim to any of these.
Top six scams
‘Phishing’ is the method of gathering personal information using deceptive e-mails. Some reports estimate that 90-95% of all successful cyberattacks are a result of ‘phishing’ – and that one in every 3,722 emails in the UK is a phishing attempt.
Don’t click on any links or download attachments in emails you’re unsure about. Delete the email and make sure you block the sender’s email address – that way, you won’t receive anything else from that account.
Emails and texts can also be intercepted by fraudsters and the information stolen can be used to impersonate you. At Equilibrium, we have a secure client portal that allows us to send and receive
important client documents safely.
The term for this type of fraud comes from combining the words ‘voice’ and ‘phishing’ to get ‘vishing’.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from your bank, telecoms provider, etc. asking for personal information, it could be a ‘vishing’ scam. If they ask for your PIN, payment details or bank account details, hang up! Don’t share this information over the phone. If you are concerned, you can call the company back via the number that you have for them – do not use one given to you by a cold-caller.
3. Remote access
This is where fraudsters try to gain access to your computer. If you receive a phone call out of the blue and the caller claims to be from a technical support service provider, a large telecommunications firm, or a computer company, it could be fraudulent. They might tell you that your internet is slow or your computer is experiencing technical problems and they need to access it remotely to fix the problem.
It’s actually so they can access your personal details. If you get a call like this, hang up!
Have you ever received a text message from a number you don’t recognise? Or from a company asking you to do something urgently, a bank for example? It could be a smishing scam.
If you receive a text message that you’re unsure about, don’t click on any links, and check any numbers with your bank. Most banks have a telephone number checker you can use to make sure the number is genuine. Banks won’t ask you for any personal details or security information, and you should never respond to any text asking for this.
5. Identity fraud
It’s important that you don’t make your personal details public on social media – fraudsters could use them to fake your identity and cause you financial harm.
It’s a good idea to review your social media privacy settings regularly. If you’re setting up a new account, don’t choose a username with personal details in it. For example, John_Smith1990 reveals its owner’s first name, surname and year of birth – all information that can be used by fraudsters.
6. Clone firms
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has recently warned about ‘clone firms’. Scammers set up fake firms using the name, address and ‘firm reference numbers’ of real firms. Targets will receive communications from the clone firm with links imitating the real firm’s website, duping potential investors into entering their details.
According to the FCA, average losses of £45,242 were reported by consumers throughout 2020. You can always check the FCA register for the legitimate phone number of an FCA registered company.
Top five tips
1. Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (often shortened to 2FA) ’double checks’ that you are the person you are claiming to be when using online services, such as banking, email or social media. It is available on most of the major online services. When setting up 2FA, the service will ask you to provide another factor, which is something that you (and only you) can access. This could be a code sent by text message, or that’s created by an app.
2. Keep a clean machine
Cyber criminals use weaknesses in software and apps to attack your devices and steal your identity.
Software and app updates are designed to fix these weaknesses and installing them as soon as possible will keep your devices secure. You will receive a prompt on your device to inform you that software or apps are ready to update. Do not ignore this message.
3. If in doubt, STOP!
If you receive an email you are unsure of, don’t click any links. Just delete it. Also, if you receive a phone call that you are not sure about, don’t give any personal information. Just hang up! You can always call the number that you have for the company to check if the call was legitimate.
4. Make your passwords long and strong
A good way to create a strong and memorable password is to use three random words. Numbers and symbols can still be used if needed, for example 3redhousemonkeys27! Be creative and use words memorable to you, so that people can’t guess your password. Use a password manager such as Dashlane or LastPass to help you manage your passwords securely.
5. Share with care
It’s important that you don’t make your personal details public on social media. Fraudsters could use them to fake your identity and cause you financial harm. It’s a good idea to review your social media privacy settings regularly.
Don’t post anything on social media that you’d want a fraudster to know and think twice before ‘checking in’ to locations, especially when on holiday. You don’t want to advertise that your house is empty!
Disclaimer: The content contained in this blog represents represents the opinions of Equilibrium Investment Management LLP (EIM) and Equilibrium Financial Planning LLP (EFP). The commentary in no way constitutes a solicitation of investment advice. It should not be relied upon in making investment decisions and is intended solely for the entertainment of the viewer. Past performance is never a guide to future performance. Investments may (will) fall as well as rise and you may not get back your original investment.’