Yesterday I received an email from Lloyds Bank, telling me that my account will be frozen and my funds put on hold, unless I sort out my password, that has been entered incorrectly 5 times. The email asked me to download a file that would allow me to confirm my details and so release my funds. The strange thing is that I don’t even bank with Lloyds, and I’m sure that if I did, their email address wouldn’t be ‘Lloyds-Bank@mac.com’.
Luckily I’d been researching for this post about phishing scams so I was aware that this is exactly the sort of email to be wary of. Anyone with an email address is liable to receive these ‘spam’ or ‘phishing’ emails, that try to plant a virus in your computer and in one way or another, take your personal data to commit identity theft. There are all sorts of different scams that try to do this, so here are some tips for what to look out for and how to avoid accidentally having your personal security breached.
- Be careful of emails that come from unrecognised senders, emails that ask you to confirm personal information or that aren’t personalised. Don’t let alarming messages panic you into downloading something that could be a virus.
- Never click on a link or an attachment in an email from someone you’re unsure of. An email may look as though it is from your bank or credit card company, but in reality banks will phone you or send a letter if they think there is a problem with your account. If you want to check that everything is fine with your bank account or credit card, either log in to your account on their website directly or give them a ring. They will appreciate hearing about these scams too.
- Never send your personal data such as bank account passwords or other financial information in an email. If you need to communicate this sort of stuff, only do it on a website that you know is secure – look for a lock icon in the browser status bar, or check that the URL (website address) starts with “https:” where ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’. Generally banking websites don’t ask you for your whole password, just selected characters from it.
- Don’t be fooled by “Your chance to win” scams. Lots of phishing emails now entice you to click on links that promise ‘a free iPad’ or ‘a luxury holiday for two’ – these could embed a virus into your computer that allows the scammer to follow your keystrokes to access your innermost secrets. The only winner from these emails is the crook.
- Make sure you’ve set up some security on your computer. There are many ways to set up firewalls, spam filters and anti-virus software – some of which are free with your computer software, others you need to pay for. But the £10 – £60 you’ll spend is well worth it when you consider what a phishing scam could cost you in both cash and hassle.
I’ll be having a look at computer security in this blog soon, so look out for that if you want more information. Or just give us a call to discuss what you need.