‘Massive sudden increase’ in people being targeted with scam calls and texts, minister warns | #phishing | #scams | #phishing scams


A minister warned on Friday of a “massive sudden increase” in fraudsters targeting people with phishing scams in calls and texts to mobile phones.

Health minister Lord Bethell stressed they included calls purporting to come from “BT”.

Other people have also experienced criminals calling on landlines pretending to be banks and sending emails and texts bogusly claiming to be from package delivery companies.

In response to one person tweeting if anyone was experiencing “off-the-scale levels” of mobile phone spam/phishing, both calls and texts, Lord Bethell messaged back: “Massive sudden increase. And those calls from “BT” who want me to download safety software urgently.”

The National Cyber Security Centre has guidance on “dealing with suspicious emails, phone calls and text messages” here.

On spotting a scam, it advises to look for:

* Authority – Is the message claiming to be from someone official? For example, your bank, doctor, a solicitor, or a government department. Criminals often pretend to be important people or organisations to trick you into doing what they want.

* Urgency – Are you told you have a limited time to respond (such as ‘within 24 hours’ or ‘immediately’)? Criminals often threaten you with fines or other negative consequences.

* Emotion – Does the message make you panic, fearful, hopeful or curious? Criminals often use threatening language, make false claims of support, or tease you into wanting to find out more.

* Scarcity – Is the message offering something in short supply, like concert tickets, money or a cure for medical conditions? Fear of missing out on a good deal or opportunity can make you respond quickly.

* Current events – Are you expecting to see a message like this? Criminals often exploit current news stories, big events or specific times of year (like tax reporting) to make their scam seem more relevant to you.

The cyber experts also explain: “Criminals want to convince you to do something which they can use to their advantage.

“In a scam email or text message, their goal is often to convince you to click a link. Once clicked, you may be sent to a dodgy website which could download viruses onto your computer, or steal your passwords and personal information.

“Over the phone, the approach may be more direct, asking you for sensitive information, such as banking details.”

Specifically on scams during the Covid-19 pandemic, the NCSC adds: “While everyone is worried about the coronavirus, cyber criminals have seen this as an opportunity.

“In emails and on the phone, they may claim to have a ‘cure’ for the virus, offer financial rewards, or encourage you to donate to worthy causes.

“Like many scams, these criminals are preying on real-world concerns to try and trick you into interacting. They may also mimic real NHS messages.”

The cyber security centre also gives advice on how to respond if people think they have already fallen for a scam and how to report incidents.

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