Of the many risks present in the modern, digital world, online fraud is one of the most pernicious. Not only that but the number of cases of online fraud on the rise with the HMRC calculating a value of £506.4m through remote fraud alone in 2018. One of the most common and dangerous kinds of online fraud takes the form of “phishing emails,” unsolicited emails that take the form of correspondence from everyone from your bank to PayPal to HMRC themselves. For the longest time, these kinds of emails were relatively easy to spot. HoweverT, they’ve become more and more advanced over time. In order to make sure that your details and your finances stay safe, here are some ways that you can avoid falling for these kinds of scam emails.
Do your research
The first thing that anyone trying to defraud you is going to do is try and take advantage of your ignorance. Most of us don’t spend our time arming ourselves with the knowledge of how to avoid falling victim to online scammers. It’s fortunate then that doing that is actually a lot easier than you might think. The HMRC website actually has an entire guide on how to avoid falling for any phishing emails pretending to be them. For example, if you receive an email claiming to be from HMRC in regards to tax rebates or refunds, DO NOT ENGAGE WITH IT. HMRC never sends any notifications via email about tax rebates or tax refunds. Even if everything about the email looks entirely legitimate, the fact that it’s in your inbox at all is your first sign that it’s not.
Look out for telltale signs
Of course, there are plenty of organisations that would otherwise email you or don’t have clear information online to help you discern that fact. Luckily, there are plenty of things that you can use in order to figure out whether or not they’re the real deal. The first thing to look at is the sender. The name of the sender might fit with the image that they’re presenting but hovering over it or clicking on it will reveal the actual email address. Sometimes it will be an address that is similar, but not identical to the one used by the company they’re pretending to be, or it could just be a string of numbers. Similarly, look at how they use language. Organisations like HMRC have clear guidelines on exactly how their correspondences should be written and if the email feels like it’s slipping into overly casual language or simply refers to you as “Dear customer”, that’s another telltale sign of a scam.
Use your common sense
It’s easy for many of us to get flustered when it feels as though we’re receiving some kind of correspondence or notification from a company like HMRC or PayPal. However, the very best thing that you can do is to keep your wits about you and use your common sense. Look at what is actually being offered in the email. The best thing to remember is that if it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Are you being offered a refund on money you don’t remember paying? Are your details being requested to process a purchase you’re not sure if you made? These are all clear signs of someone trying to get a hold of your valuable information. The best thing to do in this situation is to contact whichever organisation as supposedly sent you the email through their normal communication channels and ask for confirmation. As tempting as the idea of a tax refund might be, it’s hardly worth putting yourself at risk.
Of course, there may be circumstances where you find yourself falling prey to one of these scammers. The most important thing to remember is not to panic. Online fraudsters are becoming more and more advanced in their techniques and it’s causing more and more people to fall victim to them. If you’re worried that your details or your digital presence have been in some way compromised then you should contact us right away. At Jalapeno Business Services, our IT experts can offer you and your staff the training that you need to avoid falling victim to online fraud as well as helping you build stronger, more secure digital infrastructure throughout your business, including keeping a close eye on it at all times through our remote monitoring service. To make sure that your business is as secure as possible online, get in touch via our email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01636 681110.