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Protecting your personal details against phishing, vishing and smishing

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Sadly there are lots of ways criminals seek to exploit their victims. One is by convincing someone to hand over valuable personal details, cash, or download something that infects your computer or smartphone to steal this information or hold your information to ransom. This may be done through a website, online service, social media page, email, phone call, or voice or text message, posing as a company or brand you recognise.

Once the criminals have your details they may use them to steal your identity, or simply take the money you’ve paid and break all contact.

There are lots of terms used to refer to this kind of activity – phishing refers to fake emails intended to trick you into revealing your details, vishing is the use of voice calls or messages to do the same, and smishing occurs when a fraudster tries to trick you with a text or SMS message.

Protect yourself

  • Don’t assume anyone who’s sent you an email or text message – or has called your phone or left you a voicemail – is who they say they are
  • If a phone call or voicemail, email or text message asks you to make a payment, log in to an online account or offers you a deal, be cautious. Real banks never email you for passwords or ask for any other sensitive information by clicking on a link and visiting a website. If you get a call from someone who claims to be from your bank, don't give away any personal details
  • Make sure your email account’s spam filter is on. If you find a suspicious email, mark it as spam and delete it to keep similar emails out in future
  • If in doubt about any communication, check it’s genuine by asking the company itself. Never call numbers or follow links provided in suspicious emails, calls or texts; find the official website or customer support number using a separate browser and search engine or the phone book

Spot the signs

  • Spelling, grammar, graphic design or image quality in fake missives is often poor quality. They may use odd ‘spe11ings’ or ‘cApiTals’ in the email subject to fool your spam filter
  • If they know your email address but not your name, it’ll begin with something like ‘To our valued customer’, or ‘Dear...’ followed by your email address
  • The website or email address doesn’t look right; authentic website addresses are usually short and don’t use irrelevant words or phrases. Businesses and organisations don’t use web-based addresses such as Gmail or Yahoo
  • Money being taken from your account, or withdrawals or purchases appearing on your bank statement that you don’t remember making

Be aware on social media

Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels may be used to direct you to a spoof website. Fraudsters create accounts with similar usernames and profile pictures to official accounts to trick you into thinking you’re dealing with someone you can trust.

Official accounts are ‘verified’ – they come with a checkmark icon next to their name, meaning they’ve proved themselves as the official company to the social media channel. Never reveal any sensitive or personal information on social media.

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting your details email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

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