Case Studies

Scams Awareness fortnight

by Mark Rowe

It’s Scams Awareness fortnight. Reports of scams are increasing, says the charity Citizens Advice; whether unsolicited emails or phone calls; whether claiming fake deliveries or parcels; someone pretending to be from the government; or someone offering a fake investment or ‘get rich quick’ scheme.

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “From fraudulent get rich quick schemes to dodgy texts, opportunistic scammers continue to prey on even the savviest of consumers. Our research shows that when it comes to scams anyone can be targeted, and anyone can be tricked.

“It’s more important than ever we all do our bit to report scams when we see them to help protect ourselves and others. By learning how scammers operate, and helping each other understand what to look out for, we can all work together to stop fraudsters in their tracks.“

Paul Scully, Consumer Minister at the Department for Business, said that absolutely anyone can be the victim of a scam. “Criminals don’t care who they’re scamming, as long as they get what they want. You might think you’re really tech-savvy, but we’re now seeing scams so convincing they’d give a computer programmer pause for thought.

“The best way to protect ourselves from scams is to dispel the myth that only a certain type of person is at risk, share experiences, and report suspected scams to Citizens Advice and Action Fraud.”

And John Herriman, Chief Executive of Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought levels of anguish to the public that we haven’t seen for many years. While there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, fraudsters have not relented.

“Beyond the profoundly destructive and life-destroying impact scams have, the climate of fear is apparent, with 68% of people reporting that they are worried for either themselves, their family, or friends falling victim to scams, a level of concern shared across all age groups.

“Trading Standards professionals across the country are working around the clock to help protect the public from malicious fraudsters, and their work throughout the pandemic has been exceptional. Their work, however, is enhanced by an informed and empowered public.

“Scams Awareness and initiatives like Friends Against Scams are vital annual campaigns that do so much to raise public awareness and improve the protective bonds between the public, consumer protection authorities, and business. We are strongest when we are united.”

Comment

Chris Vaughan, AVP – Technical Account Management – EMEA, at the cyber firm Tanium, called the fortnight a great reminder for organisations to prioritise cybersecurity defence and training, especially given working remotely. “There are a number of measures that organisations can take to defend themselves against scam attacks including frequent cybersecurity training for all staff members to ensure that they can identify common threats like phishing emails.

“As the majority of security breaches start with a user clicking on a malicious link from such emails, it’s important for organisations to have a high level of visibility of the devices connecting to the corporate network so they can identify any successful breaches and quickly minimise the impact of them.

“Having a back-up initiative can also limit the success of scam attacks where sensitive areas of an IT environment are breached. Placing careful consideration on how long each type of data needs to be kept and conducting regular tests are all part of a good back-up strategy. This should minimise the damage that could be done by an attacker if they successfully breach a sensitive area of an organisation’s IT environment.”

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