It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book – sending a text or email pretending to be someone’s bank and hoping they’ll hand over their personal details. And at a time of national uncertainty and anxiety, with money a big concern of many amid the threat of job losses and pay cuts, people are proving more likely to fall for these scams.
That’s exactly what happened to one mother-of-two, whose bank account was hacked after she clicked on a link in what she thought was a text fromPayPal.
The woman, who asked not to be named, said she clicked on the link in a panic and had no idea what she was letting herself in for.
She said: “I should’ve known better but out of panic clicked the link.
“Sunday, I got a phone call from the bank saying someone has tried to take out 2 loans amounting to £11,000.
“The first was accepted but luckily was able to get the money back to the bank without any charges.”
She said: “It makes you feel like such an idiot. Even though you know not to click, you just read it and panic! I’m not entirely stupid either!
“I think we’re too trusting, aren’t we. I remember clicking it thinking ‘hmm that’s unusual’ but still did it.”
Sharing her story on Facebook, she posted: “If you do get a message like this DO NOT CLICK THE LINK.”
Another woman, who was recently made redundant amid the COVID-19 crisis, also got in touch with Express.co.uk to say she had fallen victim to the same scam.
She said: “I was just feeling really down and stressed about everything anyway with this lockdown, and losing my job meant I was worrying about money for than normal.
“I just didn’t think, I was in such a flap I clicked the link and it was only afterwards I realised I’d been a fool.
“I rang my bank straight away and their fraud team sorted everything for me, which was such a relief.
“But people need to be warned about these scams, especially now when we’re all already on edge.”
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These types of scams are known as a “phishing” scam.
This is an illegal attempt to “fish” for your private data.
The scam works by using false pretences – such as by sending emails/SMS that fraudulently claim to be from a well-known company like PayPal – to trick you into revealing personal or financial information.
These text or emails often link to fake (spoof) websites where your information – such as bank account or credit card details – can be collected if you type it in.
These days, most of us use messaging services such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat.
But SMS is still a popular choice for businesses that want to tell you something important.
But while you may receive perfectly innocent SMS messages from firms, it’s also best to stay on the side of caution and never click on the link in the message.
Instead, head online and go straight to your account of the retailer that claims to be messaging you.
Or, ring your bank on the number they have provided you – never use a number sent to you in a message.
PayPal has issued its own guidance to stop its customers from being scammed.
If you think you’ve received a phishing email, follow these steps right away:
1. Forward the entire email to firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Do not alter the subject line or forward the message as an attachment
3. Delete the suspicious email from your inbox
The firm also has eight helpful tips to help you spot a scam:
1. Check the sender’s Address
The “From” line may include an official-looking address that mimics a genuine one.
2. Generic Greetings
Be wary of impersonal greetings like “Dear User”, or your email address. A legitimate PayPal email will always greet you by your first and last name.
3. Typos/Poor Grammar
Emails sent by popular companies are almost always free of misspellings and grammatical errors.
4. False Sense of Urgency
Many scam emails tell you that your account will be in jeopardy if something critical is not updated right away.
5. Fake Links
Check where a link is going before you click on it by hovering over the URL in an email, and comparing it to the URL in the browser. If it looks suspicious, don’t click it.
A real email from PayPal will never include attachments. You should never open an attachment unless you are 100% sure it’s legitimate, because they can contain spyware or viruses.
7. Tracking number
The email/SMS asks you to provide the tracking number of the dispatched item, before you’ve received a payment into your PayPal account.
8. Clicking on links
Never click on a link in an email that requests personal information. Any time you receive an email about your PayPal account, open a new browser, type in www.paypal.co.uk, and login to your account directly.
Published at Mon, 25 May 2020 13:55:00 +0000