We have all seen a dodgy looking email in our inbox claiming that we have won a competition that we didn’t enter, or that we are due to inherit some money that we know is a hoax. But recently, fraudsters are becoming more intelligent about how to con everyday people, using professional looking messages under the guise of a major company, perhaps a company that you already do business with, and have no reason to question or doubt.
As a result, more people are getting duped into parting with their money. Now, a report from Alliance and Leicester suggests that we can predict when these phishing emails are most likely to hit, and possibly be prepared for them. The report indicates that holidays are a prime time for phishing emails; it says, “Spammers know that more people are doing their holiday shopping online every year, so make sure you’re careful this year as you finish your online holiday shopping.”
It goes on to advise, “Remember to check your anti-malware software, spam filtering software, and other software security measures…”
So what could you expect in your inbox in the lead up to Christmas? personal personal loans website Wonga South Africa is just one of many company that has recently been hit by a phishing scam (see the picture in this article). Its customers have been receiving elaborate and convincing emails, promoting a new loan with fantastic rates. This is just the kind of product you may be interested in before Christmas, where funds are tight. It could well convince you to pay the upfront fee in order to secure the ‘great rate’ you believe you would receive. Wonga SA warn they would never ask for money upfront to any of their products. Although some people recognised the email and SMS messages they received as being a hoax, others were convinced and signed up for the so-called loan. The email contained the Wonga logo and looked very professional (see image) so it wouldn’t be too difficult to see why many took the bait.
Wonga warn that if you ever suspect any form of fraudulent activity, you should report it to their dedicated hotline. Other companies that have also found themselves at the centre of such a scam have conducted similar damage limitation and safety control measures. Paypal and HMRC are other companies that are constantly struggling with phishing emails – so if you receive anything that looks off, report it to the company directly.
The key message here is education. Make sure you know what to look out for in a possible phishing email. If the email appears in the lead up to a holiday season and it is offering you a deal or promotion which you’re unsure of, check the website of the company directly – don’t click through the link until you know for sure. You can always call the company if you want extra validation on a message you have received. Remember that as with the Wonga example, you could receive an email OR a text message. Don’t feel like you won’t be affected either. Scammers will email hoax messages out to millions of email accounts everyday, and the likelihood is that you could be one of them.