Sadly lots of new developments in the world of scams in the past month including Apple iPhones, Facebook, Fortnite, Google Chrome and fake university emails
18 million UK Facebook users’ telephone numbers have been discovered online, Google Chrome has had a major vulnerability, Apple iPhone has similarly needed extra protection and there are always new versions of old scams which started doing the rounds again.
The unfortunate discovery of all those Facebook users telephone numbers is a threat because it opens the floodgates to scam or “wangiri” calls and SIM swapping frauds. Wangiri is the Japanese term for “one ring and drop”, and it’s when you receive a call, generally from overseas, it rings once and then they hang up, the scam is if you call back its always a premium rate number.
SIM swap frauds are when fraudsters convince mobile providers to switch your number to them and can then reset passwords and use your 2-factor authentication. This type of fraud costs the telecom industry a staggering £27 billion per year. If you receive one of these calls, DON’T call back, block the number and report it to your provider by texting CALL to 7726 and answering the questions.
Another “old scam” which has resurfaced is the spreading of malware, (software designed to cause damage to your computer/steal your data) through downloads for the incredibly popular Fortnite Game.
Since 2018 there have been over 53,000 online scams related to Fortnite, research by Zerofox shows. Researchers have discovered that a free “aimbot” being offered contains some very malicious malware. The lesson here is, only download from very trusted sources.
Unusually, this past month featured a vulnerability in iPhone software, effectively the 12.4 update had a vulnerability. In this case Apple issued a further update. 12.4.1, a few days later. The takeaway from this situation is that we all need to keep all our devices updated, as when there is a vulnerability, we need to make sure it is corrected as soon as possible.
The “phishing”, (where fraudsters look to steal your data), scam of the month is the “Confirm your unsubscribe” emails which have well and truly been doing the rounds. The way this scam works is that the fraudsters systems send out the email to millions of addresses, the fraudsters do not know which of the addresses are real UNLESS the recipients click the link.
Those unfortunate enough to do this will find themselves receiving increasing levels of spam and fraud related email. The advice here is do not click the link unless you are sure that it is something that you have asked to unsubscribe from.
Lastly, this month we would like to highlight the “A-level/University” scams that have been circulating. The most successful scams are those which catch us at moments of vulnerability and when one’s child is leaving home to start university it is an emotional time and there lots of opportunities for fraudsters to send fake email asking for payments for course or accommodation fees.
Unfortunately, research has shown that the universities do not have well protected email systems and so we all need to be vigilant that any demand is bonafide. We recommend calling the university to confirm that the request is a real one because unfortunately one you have authorised the payment it is unlikely to be refunded if it turns out to be a fraudulent one.
The best way to stay safe from scams is to stay informed and keep sharing the information with friends and family. Stay safe!
Mark White is chief executive of scams avoidance service Reassura
Please note the views expressed in this article are for informational purposes only, should not be considered advice, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Moneywise Publishing Ltd