Check out the latest Scam Alert!

Check out the latest Scam Alert!

by Danielle Thompson (April 2021)

Let’s celebrate the reopening of our shops and enjoy ourselves outside our favourite cafes and pubs. Hopefully the first stop for many of us will be the charity shops, to support our favourite charities. Hope you all enjoy yourselves, safely.

We have just had “National Pets Day” on 11th April. Did you know that 15% of British people use their pet’s name as a password for online account, although the National Cyber Security Centre recommends words. In the last year, 27% of UK citizens set up more than four new password-protected accounts, recognising the importance of making them hard to hack. A survey of UK passwords showed that they are often made up of things people can easily predict – such as pets’ names (15%), family members’ names (14%), a significant date (13%) or favourite sports team (6%). Six percent of the UK admitted using ‘password’ as all or part of their password – meaning millions of accounts can easily be breached by criminals using trial-and-error techniques to crack common passwords. The Cyber Aware campaign recommends using three random words and saving these in an internet browser.

Predictable passwords can easily be cracked by hackers who could force their wayn into your accunts by simply guessing common pet names. Use a strong and separate password for your email. If a hacker gets into your email, they could reset your other account passwords and access information you have saved about yourself or your business. Your email password should be strong and different to all your other passwords.

Staying on the pets topic, Action Fraud warns us to “paws for thought” before purchasing an animal online from a website or person you don't know and trust. Criminals have capitalised on the rise in people getting pets due to the national corona virus lockdown by posting fake adverts on social media, online marketplaces and specific pet-selling platforms. Victims are asked to pay a deposit for the animal without actually seeing it, and the restrictions caused by the pandemic are used as a reason why the animal cannot be seen. After the initial payment is made, there are more requests to cover additional costs such as insurance, vaccinations and delivery of the pet.

Action Fraud has set out some simple steps to ensure buyers don't fall victim to pet fraud. Do your research: If you’re buying from a website or person you don’t know and trust, do some research first: seek reviews of the website or person you’re buying from. If you’re purchasing from an online marketplace, you can view the seller’s feedback history before going ahead with the purchase.

If you’re cannot view the animal in person, request a video call. If you’re buying a young animal, insist on seeing the mother and rest of the litter. If the seller refuses this, demand to know why. If you have any suspicions, do not pay any money until you’re sure the sale is genuine..

Never pay by bank transfer as that offers you little protection if you are become a victim of fraud. Use a payment method such as a credit card if you have one, that offers buyer protection in case anything goes wrong. If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

If you or someone you know is struggling to pay bills or outstanding debts, Citizens Advice may be able to help. Citizens Advice Sefton telephone service is available: Help To Claim advice line number for help claiming Universal credit is 0800 144 8444. 8am to 6pm. Mon to Fri. For general advice 0344 493 0012. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri. The debt number is 0151 318 6407. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri. Our local website address is- www.https://seftoncab.org.uk/

Citizens Advice Lancashire West telephone is available between 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday, & 9.00am and 1.00pm Saturdays on Adviceline 0344 245 1294 and Help to Claim line

0800 144 8 444. Their website address is – www.citizensadvicelancashirewest.org.uk

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