A new year brings a fresh start; time to kick the bad habits and eliminate the unnecessary things in your life but just like the selfie trend doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon neither are the scammers. In fact a new year brings a new load of scams. Criminals, especially the cyber kind, have become more ingenious and creative with their schemes in response to better security and policing against these types of crimes. With technology rapidly developing fraudsters are constantly devising new tricks to part you from your money and refining old ones.
Get savvier about scams with our list of the top 2015 scams you need to know about to protect your security and finances:
The start of April sees an overhaul of the pension system which will give people more freedom over how they spend, save and invest their retirement fund. However hold on tight to your pension pot as increase in scams are set to occur as con artists aim to take advantage of the new reforms. Claiming to ‘liberate’ your pension it starts with a cold call, text message or email offering to convert your pension benefits into cash before retirement through transferring it into bogus arrangements which accrue huge fees and taxes. Victims have already lost £500m to such scams.
Tech Support Scam
Companies in India, California and Florida have been sued by Microsoft for alleged misuse of their name and providing fraudulent technical support services. Since May 2014 Microsoft has received 65,000 customer complaints of the phone scams. Victims are being told there is a problem with their computer and they can fix it for free. Malicious software programs are then installed by the fraudsters that allows them to access your computer without your knowledge.
Cyber criminals hold access to your computer or handheld device for a ransom. This usually happens when a user clicks on a link or attachment in an email or social media that appears to be from a trusted source. However it is fake and a program is installed to encrypt the users files and restrict access, demanding a ransom be paid unlock it. Some criminals have also gone as far as impersonating law enforcement accusing victims of unpleasant crimes such a child pornography and zoophilic behaviour. They have also been found to be using electronic payment methods like Bitcoin and Webmoney for convenience and anonymity. The only way to prevent this is to be more click-conscious and avoid any questionable URLs or emails.
Mobile Payment Hacks
The new generation of faster payments allowing customers to pay with the touch or wave of their phone or credit card comes at a price as criminals only try to find new ways to attack it. Apple’s new mobile payment system ‘ApplePay’ is said to be this year’s target for hackers, who tend to attack popular platforms, trying to figure out how to breach Apple’s security and reap rewards from transactions.
HMRC Phishing Emails
With tax returns due in a couple of days fraudsters look to prey on unsuspecting taxpayers by sending out ‘phishing’ emails with the aim of acquiring sensitive information such as credit card details or passwords. The emails, purporting to be from HMRC, appear very convincing and claim that a tax rebate is due. HMRC have said they never contact customers via email regarding tax refunds, it is always a letter sent through the post. If you receive any such emails it has been advised that you it to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ and then delete it.