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Fraud committed via links in unexpected emails, posts or texts, or email attachments, is becoming all too commonplace, with millions affected every year. So are phone calls from strangers claiming to be from your bank, your credit card company or the police … but who are actually fraudsters. We call this ‘social engineering’ – which cunningly manipulates you into a position where you can be scammed. The scams range from simple emails to complex multiple phone calls. Whichever the method, they are designed to steal your money or your identity … or both.

Don’t become a victim: read these simple tips

  • Never give out personal or financial data including usernames, passwords, PINs, ID numbers or memorable phrases.
  • Be very careful that people or organisations who you supplying payment card or other confidential information to are genuine, and even then, never reveal passwords. A bank, HMRC, retailer or other reputable organisation will never ask you for your password, PIN or memorable information via email, phone call or any other means.
  • If you are asked by a caller to cut off the call and phone your bank or card provider, call the number on the number you know to be correct. However, be sure to use another phone from the one you received the call on or leave it for five minutes before you make the call, in case the sender’s number has been spoofed or the line left open.
  • Never click on email attachments from unknown sources as they could well contain malware. Delete them, and take the details to report if appropriate.
  • Do not click on links in emails from senders you do not know. Instead, roll your mouse pointer or finger over the link to reveal the actual sender. If different, it is probably a scam.
  • Even if you get an email that seems to come from someone you might know – but it seems irregular or out of character – the sender may be a fraudster who has hacked into their email or spoofed their address. If in doubt, call (but do not email) the sender.
  • Do not attach external storage devices like USB sticks or hard drives – or insert CD-ROMs/DVD-ROMs into your computer – if uncertain of the source. This is a favourite way for fraudsters to spread malware.

Report any fraud to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 20 40 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk

Check out our informative videos on social engineering scams.

Also report fraud to any website or ISP where you have been defrauded. This applies however large or small the amount: it could protect others, and the proceeds of fraud are often used to fund activities like terrorism and human trafficking.