After a short break to celebrate the first week of August, we are back to warn our younger friends who may be readying themselves for university that the scammers are preparing to target you.
Last year HMRC issued warnings to students about job related scams, and about tax refunds phone calls and emails designed to grab personal and financial information. We ask you to watch out for adverts for fake jobs, money mule recruitment and rentals frauds. Recently there have been reports of a new scam targeting students, where they were being approached or recruited whilst on public transport by suspects using the iPhone Air Drop messaging function. The concern is that individuals are being recruited as money mules, or persuaded to invest in a non-existent scam. There has been a recent increase in the number of reports relating to direct debit refund scams, where individuals were recruited via social media, and this may be another area of risk for students. Threats of fraud and cybercrime to students will be increased because of current economic problems and the cost of living crisis. So our message to all students this year is “be on your guard”, and make sure that you are safe with your online ID.
Have a think about your passwords, because weak passwords can be cracked in seconds. The longer and more unusual your password is, the harder it is for a cyber criminal to crack. Combine three random words to create a password that’s ‘long enough and strong enough’ (for example applenemobiro). Or you could use a password manager, which can create strong passwords for you (and remember them). Avoid the most common passwords that criminals can easily guess (like ‘password’). You should also avoid creating passwords from significant dates (like your birthday, or a loved one’s), or from your favourite sports team, or by using family and pet names. Most of these details can be found within your social media profile.If you’re thinking of changing certain characters in your password (so swapping the letter ‘o' with a zero, for example), you should know that cyber criminals know these tricks as well. So your password won’t be significantly stronger, but it will be harder for you to remember.
Finally, National Trading Standards (NTS) this week is telling us to watch out for criminals who are using social media, texting, messaging and phone calls to pressurise their victims to pay for something upfront. If you are asked by anyone to pay quickly by bank transfer or even cryptocurrency for an upfront fee, remember to ask your self-could this be fake/ Its always OK to reject, refuse or ignore any such request. Remember #TakeFive# StopChallengeProtect (yourself)..
If you are worried that something might be a scam, or you want to report a scam, you can contact Citizens Advice scam action service at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/reporting-a-scam/
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: 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 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