THE number of people falling victim to con artists has soared by 25 per cent in the past two years, as fraudsters exploit the cost-of-living crisis.
WHATSAPP OFFERS: There has been a wave of scams on WhatsApp, with many falling for an offer of a free fridge full of beer, if you click on a link. You assume that because WhatsApp is encrypted, scammers cannot target it.
But it is possible to spoof or use malware to make a number look like it is from a friend or relative, or simply take over your account.
When you try the link, the fraudsters try to pinch your data or hijack your account. So don’t click.
PARCEL DELIVERY MESSAGES: Victims believe they are being contacted by delivery firms like DHL or Evri.
Texts or emails say your parcel could not be delivered and invite you to follow a link then ask you to pay a minor post charge (giving away your bank details) or enter personal details, later used to crack your accounts. Ignore them.
PHONE SCAMS AND SIM SWAPS: The sim-swap scam involves fraudsters sifting the online black market of stolen data and gathering enough to guess your log-in details to websites.
Once they have enough information, the fraudster contacts your mobile phone provider and requests a sim card swap, which then allows them to access your private details from official notifications, and emails from banks and other financial services.
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A new variation on the scam involves requesting a PAC code — a way to simplify switching to a new phone provider by text, that unfortunately can also facilitate this scam.
Even Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey got caught out.
The latest variant is fraudsters using stolen data to hack your mobile phone contract, order a new phone to your address then pretend to be the phone or delivery firm and ask you to send it back (or even collect it from your door).
People only discover the fraud when they’re hit with a bill for the stolen phone. Only contact your mobile phone firm through its official channels.
‘UNABLE TO MAKE A PAYMENT’ MESSAGES: Many texts claim to be from retailers or banks, notifying you that a payment has failed and to log in to your account via a fake provided link to sort this out.
If you fall for this, change your passwords and notify your bank and card providers immediately.
WHAT IF YOU GET SCAMMED? If you have transferred money or given access to your accounts, call your bank straight away using 159 or the number on your card.
And don’t give up on a complaint.
The free Financial Ombudsman Service looks at fraud complaints.
So if you are tricked into handing over cash but the bank failed to help you, warn you or deal with your complaint properly, then the Ombudsman might take a different view.
Last year it upheld 60 per cent of fraud cases in the complainant’s favour — a huge amount, and a clear warning to the banks that they must do better.