In 2017, the BBC reported that Cybercrime and fraud rates in the UK have increased by 8%, with an estimated 3.6 million cases of fraud in one year. A common method criminals’ use to hijack your accounts is to send you an email asking you to take action, such as to click a button or link.
Previously these ‘scam’ emails were easy to spot by numerous typos or strange foreign business addresses. Now, however, these criminals are using more sophisticated tactics to get hold of your account information by replicating authentic emails from legitimate businesses. In a report by Which?, it is suggested that the number one business name used by scammers is PayPal. This is followed by the banks and then HMRC. For further information from Which? on scam emails click here.
So how can you tell if the email you have received is genuine or a scam? Here are some examples we have received.
- The email address does not match the Tesco corporate email address
- The brand logo is incorrect
- The ‘from’ email address does not match the Amazon corporate email address
- The grammar in this email is poor and it is unlikely Amazon would refer to their website as “top notch technology”.
- The message itself is jumbled. It appears they are asking for feedback, yet they go on to apologise for your bad experience and offer compensation.
- Amazon’s premium service is called Prime, not Premium, and the Amazon logo is incorrect.
Other examples include ‘refund processing’, ‘order status’ and ‘urgent notification’ messages which require you to reconfirm your login or bank details. A legitimate business would never ask you to provide this type of information by email unless you specifically requested it. If you are unsure whether an email you have received is genuine or not, the best advice we can give you is this:
- Do not click on any links within the email
- Log on to your account independently and see if the same notification appears. For example, if the email is asking you to update your information, the likelihood is that you will receive the same message on logging into your account. If you do not, it is probably a spam email.
- If you are still unsure, contact the business that you believe sent you the email. They will then confirm if the email is genuine or not.
- Change your passwords regularly. We all know coming up with new passwords is a frustrating process, mainly because it is hard to come up with new and memorable versions. However, it is crucial, and you must make your new password as secure as possible. This means including a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special symbols as well as making your password longer than 7 characters.