The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has drastically impacted our normal daily lives, with more of us now working/learning from home and spending more time online, we are now a bigger target for cyber criminals than ever before.
We are all potential victims for cyber hacks, fraud and scams!
Since reopening we have already had a number of customers who have been victims of cyber crime from viruses to ransomware, with our worst incident being an Amazon Phone Scam, where the customer lost £20,000 from their bank account.
So here is a breakdown of the scams and cyber security issues we have come across since reopening:
Covid-19/Coronavirus Track and trace scam
A telephone scam where scammers call residents telling them that they are from the NHS Track & Trace service, explaining that they have been in contact with someone suffering from Covid-19/Coronavirus and that they urgently need to have a test sent out to them. This is quickly followed with a request for £500 and the resident’s bank details.
Please do not fall for this scam.
Important! The NHS Test and Trace service won’t:
- Ask for your bank or payment details;
- Ask for social media accounts or details of any other accounts;
- Ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone;
- Ask you to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087
Spoof HMRC phone calls
We ourselves have had many of these HMRC scam calls reported to us. These malicious calls reporting to be from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), try to scam the public by spoofing genuine HMRC telephone numbers to deceive victims over the phone. The scammers state that as a result of the victim’s non-payment of tax, or other duty, the victim will be prosecuted or other legal action will be taken in order to settle the balance. The fraudsters suggest that this can be avoided, if payment is to be immediately made by bank transfer or by purchasing iTunes or Amazon gift cards.
If the victim refuses, the scammers threaten with immediate arrest, sending bailiffs to the victim’s address or, in some cases, deportation.
In most cases the period for which the tax is allegedly due is distant enough to guarantee the victim will have little, if any, paperwork or ability to verify the claims. As soon as the money is paid the scammers sever all contact with the victim.
Please be aware of these calls, they are SCAMS!
In genuine cases, HMRC will initially make direct contact with you via post/letter and potentially follow up with a phone call at a later date. If HMRC do contact you via telephone they will quote the reference number on the initial letter you should have received. HMRC will not discuss something you are not already aware of, like a tax investigation, and will NOT demand immediate payment.
BT Internet tech support scam
We have recently have had a number of customers who have been victims of a BT internet scam. The victim receives a call from someone claiming to be from BT who explains to them that their computer is insecure, open to fraud and hackers, and that they needed to upgrade to a more enhanced security package if they wanted to keep safe online.
The enhanced security software is sometimes offered for free and the victim is then passed to a technician who gets them to install a programme called Team Viewer. Once installed, the technician asks the victim to let them remote login to their computer/laptop so they install the security software and also help secure their online accounts including their online bank accounts.
The victim under the impression that the technician is here to help continues to follow their instructions and is asked to log into their Amazon account and further to log into their bank account and process a large transaction, which they state is only for security reasons and that they will not be actually charged.
After the call has ended, the victim feels that this is not correct and contacts the bank and then BT who confirmed that it was a fraud call. Unfortunately, the bank did not step in and a 4-figure sum was taken out of the account.
Amazon account scam
2 weeks after opening from lock down, early on a Monday morning we were called by a customer who over the weekend endured a nightmare over 6 hours with a scammer claiming to be from Amazon’s security department.
The scammer rang the customer stating that they were calling from Amazon’s fraud department and that they had noticed irregularities on the customer’s account. In shock the customer complied with the scammers believing that they were helping Amazon in their inquiries to catch the alleged culprit. However, this was not the case and turned into a 6-hour ordeal where the scammers were able to convince the customer to let them remote into their computer and not only access their Amazon account but also their bank accounts too. The scammers were able to access 2 bank accounts and from one were able to withdraw £20,000.
In almost all cases BT or Amazon will never ring you regarding a tech support, security matter, or request to remote into your computer. However, its always better to be safe and to first check the identity of a caller and if you suspect they are not from the organisation they claim to be from, then phone them back from a number that is listed in the directory, and if possible, phone back on a different phone.
If anyone you don’t know or you don’t understand why, tries to install Team Viewer or any other software that allows them to control your computer, just stop the call. If possible, end any installations or uninstall/remove any programs you believe they have installed or looks suspicious.
However, if you are not sure and would like the PC Surgeon to have a look, then feel free to book an appointment for our cybersecurity service, furthermore we don’t charge to have an initial chat and provide a diagnosis. Click here to book your free appointment!