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Staying Safe Online - How to Avoid Scams and Phishing

Where can you get mugged one moment, and then receive a lottery sized windfall the next?

Only on the internet!

And whilst you'll be glad to have not been physically attacked your friends might think you've been mugged and stranded in a foreign country. This is one of the scams that is currently doing the rounds on the internet. A persons email address book is hijacked and a set of rogue emails are sent to friends asking for hundreds of pounds to be sent via Western Union to some far flung destination. The trouble is, you're sitting in your lounge in Aldershot blissly unaware that any of this is going on!

Useful websites

Phishing

MoneySavingExpert.com

Phishing

StaySafeOnline.org

A twist to that scam has recently involved Facebook Messenger and faked identities.

So the number one rule on the internet must always be: be on your guard! I make this appeal because Christian people are kind hearted and compassionate, and they will respond if someone says they have been left stranded and penniliess. Surely it's a modern day retelling of the Parable of the Good Samaritan! But before you get your bank details to hand pick up your phone and give the person (or their family, or someone from their church) a call and see if the story is all above board.

Another scam involves someone ringing and saying they are from Microsoft or Apple, or some other big computer company, and that they have detected a virus on your computer. They try to get you to download unnecessary security software at some extortionate price when they don't have the ability to 'see' your computer at all.

The term Phishing refers to emails that try to lure you into purchasing an item or sending money off. Huge numbers of people fell for the email which purported to come from someone in the oil industry in Africa who was trying to smuggle out millions of pounds of money from a corrupt regime, and if you supplied your bank details they would siphon it out that way and give you a cut of the money. They were plenty of variations on that theme too.

Have a look at the links on the right and see some great advice. And remember:

  1. Always be on your guard
  2. Don't rely just on communicating via email or Facebook or Twitter - those accounts may be hacked! Pick up the phone!
  3. Never give out personal details or bank details unless it's on official pages and secure forms.
  4. Choose strong passwords totally unconnected with you personally, change them regularly, and use a password manger if at all possible.

Stay Safe!