I HOPE that you all had a pleasant Easter in the sunshine. I read some recent reports about banking frauds, and there are some good suggestions for all online banking residents. Check your account regularly for new payees, direct debits and standing orders you have not authorised. Check recent transactions for any you don’t recognise. If you see anything you don’t recognise, contact your bank immediately.
Next, the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils across England and Wales, is warning residents to be aware of scams and to watch out for tell-tale signs of having been contacted by a scammer. The criminals are cold-calling residents asking for bank details so that they can receive the Government’s £150 energy rebate, announced earlier this year to help with the rising cost of energy bills. Payments will be administered by local authorities for all households in council tax bands A to D.
However, please remember that our councils will not ask for bank details over the phone. All households who pay council tax by direct debit will receive the payment directly into their bank account and anyone who does not pay their council tax by direct debit will be sent a letter with details of how to claim.
If you unexpectedly receive a text message or email asking you to click on a link, do NOT click on it, because this will lead to a scam website. If in doubt, find the correct contact details online of the organisation claiming to be contacting you and check with them directly.
If you receive a message that you believe to be fraudulent, you can report it to your mobile phone provider by forwarding the message to 7726, a free reporting service provided by phone operators. You should also report the scam to Action Fraud to help others to avoid falling victim in the future.
This week’s first final warning is about another phishing campaign via WhatsApp. It has been reported by National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC for short).
The scam involves impersonation of WhatsApp’s voice message feature, thereby spreading information-stealing malware. The attack starts with an email claiming to be a notification from WhatsApp of a new private voice message. The email contains a creation date and clip duration for the supposed message, and a ‘Play’ button.
The identity ‘Whatsapp Notifier’ masks a real email address belonging to a Russian road safety organisation. As the address and organisation are real, the messages aren’t flagged as spam or blocked by email security tools. Armorblox, who discovered the scam, believe the Russian organisation is playing a role without realising.
The ‘Play’ button will take the email recipient to a website which then asks them to click ‘Allow’ in an allow/block prompt to ‘confirm you are not a robot’. Once ‘allow’ is clicked, the browser will prompt to install software that turns out to be information-stealing malware.
While there are numerous clues that this is a scam, these attacks rely on people missing the signs – perhaps because they are waiting for urgent or exciting news that could well be delivered by a voice message. If you are a WhatsApp user, be very, very careful about unexpected contacts from unknowns.
You can report scams by contacting Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and for support contact Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133
Next time, I will have some warnings about scam ticket sales. Meanwhile, can I remind everyone to watch Scam Interceptors on BBC 1 (mornings at 10.15am and on Catch-up).
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 . 0808 278 7841 (freephone) Mon – Fri 9.30am – 4.30pm and text relay for people with hearing impairment: Text relay: 03444 111 445 for people with hearing impairment .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