In a scam email or text message, a criminals 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.
They do this by pretending to be someone you trust, or from some organisation you trust. This could be your Internet Service Provider (ISP), local council, even a friend in need. And they may contact you by phone call, email or text message. The term ‘phishing’ is often used when talking about emails.
These scam messages can be very hard to spot.
They are designed to get you to react without thinking.
How to report suspicious messages.
The message might be from a company you don’t normally receive communications from, or someone you do not know.
If you are suspicious, you should report it. By doing so you’ll be helping to protect many more people from being affected.
If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) at:
Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to 7726.
This free-of-charge short code enables your provider to investigate the origin of the text and take action, if found to be malicious.
If you’ve already responded to a suspicious message, take the following steps:
If you’ve been tricked into providing your banking details, contact your bank and let them know.
If you received the message on a work laptop or phone, contact your IT department and let them know.
If you opened a link on your computer, or followed instructions to install software, open your antivirus (AV) software if you have it, and run a full scan. Allow your antivirus software to clean up any problems it finds.
If you’ve given out your password, you should change the passwords on any of your accounts which use the same password.
If you’ve lost money, tell your bank and report it as a crime to Action Fraud (for England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or Police Scotland (for Scotland). By doing this, you’ll be helping the battle against criminal activity, and in the process prevent others becoming victims of cyber crime.
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