Internet fraudsters are using ever more intricate messages to trick you to part with private information. For example: your bank details and passwords. They may also hide viruses in email attachments that will give them access to your personal computer files. The viruses will usually be activated if you open the attached files.
The best way to combat this activity is to adopt a rigorous system for opening emails. We suggest:
- Never open attachments on an email from an unrecognised source.
- Government departments should never ask for personal information in an email. Follow their guidance, see below.
- It is never wise to send personal information by email. If you get a request from your bank or other, ostensibly genuine source call them to confirm the approach is authentic.
- If an email is obviously from an unknown or unreliable source add the sender address to your “Junk mail” filter in Outlook or similar software.
- Scan your PC on a regular basis to make sure that any suspicious files are quarantined.
A summary of advice from GOV.UK follows:
Some websites can look like they’re part of an official government service or that they provide more help than they actually do. This might mean you pay for services that you could get cheaper or for free if you used the official government service.
Search on GOV.UK to find official government services – e.g. if you want to apply for a driving licence or a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Use the GOV.UK contact form to report misleading websites. You must include:
- the website address or URL
- how you found the website
- why you thought it was an official government website
HMRC phishing emails and tax scams
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will never use texts or emails to:
- tell you about a tax rebate or penalty
- ask for personal or payment information
Forward any suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or call one of the help lines.
Report a disclosure of personal details to HMRC
Contact HMRC at email@example.com if you think you’ve given any personal information in response to a suspicious email or text. Include brief details of what you disclosed (e.g. name, address, HMRC User ID, password) but don’t give your personal details in the email.
Visas and immigration
You’ll never be asked to pay for a visa using:
- money transfer
Use the GOV.UK contact form to report visa and immigration scams. You should include:
- a copy of the suspicious email you received, the sender’s email address and the date and time it was received
- details of what you sent in a reply, if you replied – e.g. whether you sent your bank details, address or password
Contact Action Fraud
You can also report suspicious emails, letters or telephone calls to the police through Action Fraud.