Essex Police are reminding residents that what appear to be innocent games posted on social media have the potential to allow criminals access to your personal data—ultimately allowing them to get their hands on your money.
Local policing teams have recently identified an increase in Facebook posts encouraging users to post their ‘Film Star Name’ using a pet’s name and mothers maiden name, or asking questions such as what was number one in the charts when you were 10. These seemingly harmless questions can provide criminals with lots of personal information that can assist them with stealing your identity.
For example: • What is your film star name? First Pet and Mother’s Maiden Name • What was number one in the charts when you were 10? Allows criminals to work out your Date of Birth • What car did you pass your driving test in? Details of first car • Describe the city you were born in with a clue? Town of birth
All of these are potentially answers to bank account security questions.
Remember to Take Five before posting personal details on social media and make sure to check your security settings so that your posts can only be seen by those who you want to see them.
This information was provided via Essex Police’s Fraud Alert System Newsletter no.36
Residents are reminded to keep their personal documents safe after a number of reports of scammers asking for copies of passports and driving licences. Essex Police have seen a recent trend in scammers requesting personal details which can be used to steal someone’s identity.
This has been linked to a number of different scams including: • HMRC/National Insurance fraud where the criminal claims they need your personal details to prevent prosecution or reinstate your NI number. • Computer software frauds where the criminal claims to be from your internet provider. They take control of your computer and say they need to take a photo of you and your driving licence/passport to confirm your identity.
Requests for personal details should always be a red flag. You should never provide this information unless you have confirmed who you are dealing with.
To protect you information and your money, Take Five: STOP – Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe. CHALLENGE – Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you. PROTECT – If you have provided personal details to someone over the phone and you now believe this to be a scam, contact your bank, building society and credit card company immediately and report it to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
This information was provided via Essex Police’s Fraud Alert Newsletter no.35
Fleeceware is a recently coined term that refers to mobile applications that come with excessive subscription fees, and in March over 200 such apps were discovered being advertised on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
The applications attract users with the promise of a free 3-day trial, but once the trial is over, they are charged a recurring subscription fee – even if they have deleted the app – until they cancel the subscription in their device’s app subscription settings. One app offers a short free trial followed by a $66 (£47.73) per week subscription, potentially costing the victim $3,432 (£2,482.19) per year unless cancelled. These fleeceware applications are actively advertised on major social networks.
How to avoid Fleeceware apps: • Be wary of free trials of less than a week – make sure you understand how much you will be charged and that the app is worth the recurring fee. • Be sceptical of viral adverts for apps – the adverts for fleeceware are likely to have enticing messaging and images to attract users’ attention. They likely do not reflect the actual functionality of the application. • Read the small print – a closer look will likely reveal the true price of the app. Pay close attention to the ‘In-app purchases’ section and be aware that even if it is a free trial, as there may be automatic charges thereafter. • Secure your payments – ensure that your payment methods are secured behind a password or biometric check. This can also prevent accidental subscriptions by children.
This information was provided via Essex Police’s Fraud Alert System Newsletter no.33
Essex has recently seen an increase in residents falling victim to rogue traders mis-selling solar panels.
Criminals target the vulnerable and those who already have solar panels to offer unnecessary maintenance contracts, extended warranties or battery replacements—all at a high price. One ’customer’ in Rayleigh received forged paperwork, whereas most receive none. Following the payment, no service is provided.
Residents have been contacted via the phone or by cold callers knocking at the door. Contact out of the blue should always be treated as suspicious—don’t be rushed to make a decision there and then.
Remember to Take Five: STOP – Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe. CHALLENGE – Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you. PROTECT – Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud
This information was provided in Essex Police’s Fraud Alerts System’s Newsletter no. 32
The public are being warned to stay alert to a new wave of scam text messages claiming to be from Royal Mail.
Criminals are taking advantage of the new reliance on online shopping and deliveries to obtain personal and banking details. This follows on from a similar scam where people would receive an email telling them that their parcel could not be delivered and they would have to pay a fee for it to be released.
The text messages come from a variety of different numbers but all will ask for a small payment which is accessed by clicking on a link in the message. Royal Mail have stated that this is not a text that they would send out, they will only send text messages to those who have opted in to their SMS service.
• Unexpected messages should be treated with caution
• Phone numbers can be easily spoofed by criminals—don’t trust a number just because it appears to come from a genuine organisation.
• Never click on links sent via email or SMS text message.
This information was provided via Essex Police’s Frauds Alert Service newsletter no. 31.