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Rise in Identity Theft in Over-60s

Identity theft is where a criminal gets personal information on someone and pretends to be that person so they can take out credit cards, bank accounts, loan agreements etc. in that person’s name.

Identity thieves generally don’t care about the age of their targets as long as they are over 18 (so they buy alcohol etc. with the fake identity) but increasingly the over-60s age group are being targeted.

In the first half of 2018, there were more than 14 thousand reports of identity theft in those aged 60 and above. The total number of identity theft cases in that time was over 80 thousand.

There are more and more people over 60 accessing the Internet so this makes it easier for criminals to find such targets.

And it may be that over-60s are more trusting and less familiar with the dangers of the Internet so don’t take the necessary steps to protect themselves as they should.

Be careful about giving away your private information e.g. name, address, email address, date of birth, bank details etc.

Be equally careful about callers claiming to be from an organisation you deal with e.g. water company, Internet provider, local government, local bank etc.

If in doubt, check the genuine phone number and call them to verify the situation.

Got to https://fightback.ninja/one-third-of-people-fail-on-basic-security-do-you/ for more advice on personal security.

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Google Advanced Protection Programme

Google’s Advanced Protection Program safeguards the personal Google Accounts of anyone at risk of targeted attacks – such as journalists, activists, business leaders and political campaign teams.

Google say that it’s not needed for everyone, but if you feel you are a target then maybe this is a necessary safeguard for you.

Basic security for a Google account is just a password. Two factor authentication is the next step and it means you have to identify yourself using two items such as a password and a PIN sent to you by text message.

The third stage of security is the use of a physical security key.

Q. What is phishing?

Phishing is a common technique used by fraudsters to trick you into giving away your login details for example. The phishing attack may be via email, text message phone call, website or in an APP.

Q. How does Advanced Protection defend against phishing?

Even if you do fall for a phishing attack that discloses your username and password, an unauthorised user won’t be able to access your account without one of your physical Security Keys.

To enrol, you’ll need to purchase two Security Keys — one wireless-enabled key to act as your main key, and one backup key. After you enrol, other authentication factors you might be used to, like codes sent via SMS or the Google Authenticator app, will no longer work.

Safeguard your data by limiting access to it

When you sign up for new apps or services, you are sometimes asked to give access to data in your Google Account. Usually this doesn’t pose a risk, but sophisticated attackers could compromise or impersonate an app or service to gain access to your personal data. To help protect you, Advanced Protection allows only Google apps and select third-party apps to access your emails and Drive files.

As a trade-off for this tightened security, the functionality of some of your apps may be affected. Most third-party apps that require access to your Gmail or Drive data, such as travel tracking apps, will no longer have permission. And you will only be able to use Chrome and Firefox to access your signed-in Google services like Gmail or Photos.

Apple’s Mail, Calendar, and Contacts apps will continue to be able to access your Google data as normal.

A common way that hackers try to access your account is by impersonating you and pretending they have been locked out of your account. To give you the strongest protection against this type of fraudulent account access, Advanced Protection adds extra steps to verify your identity during the account recovery process.

Go to https://landing.google.com/advancedprotection/ if you want to know more about Google Advanced Security.

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Trading Standards Stop Cold Calling Pack

Trading Standards across the UK have been fighting to stop cold callers, where they intimidate householders, refuse to leave till something is purchased, worry the elderly, sell poor quality products at high prices, charge for services but don’t deliver and so on.

There are cold callers who provide legitimate services and care about their customers of course, but for many householders, unwanted cold callers are a real problem.

Buckinghamshire and Surrey trading standards co-operate in many areas and have jointly released a Stop Cold Calling sticker pack which is freely available to householders in both counties.

 

 

The pack contains:-

  • A warning sticker to go on the outside of your front door. This is to deter cold callers and makes it plain to them that they are not welcome and failure to leave is a criminal offence
  • A transparent version of the sticker that can attached inside a window
  • A “Don’t be a Victim of Doorstep Crime” sticker to go inside your door as a reminder

There’s also relevant information about cold calling and an invitation to sign up to their weekly newsletter called TS alert.

If you want this pack – contact your local trading standards as most have an equivalent service.

This a useful provision to help people who find it difficult or worrying to get rid of cold callers.

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The Spanish Prisoner Scam

This a very old scam and is the origin of the modern Nigerian 419 scams (also called the Advance Fee scam) and shows that some scams have roots from a long time ago.

The Spanish Prisoner scam is a confidence trick originating in the late 19th century. The fraudster tells the victim that he is (or is in correspondence with) a wealthy person of high estate who has been imprisoned in Spain under a false identity.

The fraudster offers to let the victim put up some of the funds, with a promise of a greater monetary reward upon release of the prisoner plus another incentive  such as gaining the hand of a beautiful woman who is the prisoner’s daughter.

After the victim has paid the ransom, he is told that further difficulties have arisen, and more money is needed. The fraudster continues to press for more money until the victim is cleaned out or refuses to pay any more.

A key element of the Spanish Prisoner scam is an emphasis on secrecy. The Police cannot be involved and identity of the prisoner cannot be revealed. The scammer will claim to have chosen the victim, based on his reputation for honesty and straight dealing.

This fraud came to be known as the “Spanish Prisoner” because, often, the letter-writer claimed to be trapped in a Spanish jail, for reasons arising from the Spanish-American War. The letter was written on thin, blue, cross-lined paper, such as is used for foreign letters, and is written as fairly well-educated foreigners write English, with a word misspelled here and there, and an occasional foreign idiom.

Modern Version

In the advance-fee fraud, a valuable item must be ransomed from customs or an impound or lost-baggage service before the authorities realise its value and block the repossession.

In the Nigerian 419 scam, a relative of a deposed African dictator or Libyan leader or Iraqi leader (or similar countries leaders) offers to transfer items (gold or diamonds or bearer bonds or just cash) worth millions of dollars to the victim in return for small initial payments to cover release fees and other expenses.

Another variation spreads via hijacked social media accounts, where a message is sent to all the social media contacts of the victim, claiming that the victim is in a foreign country, has been robbed, and needs money to be sent immediately to pay for hospital bills or airline tickets or to bribe the Police in order to escape the country etc. and paid by Western Union or similar money transfer agents.

This scam is very well know but large numbers of scammers still use it in some form and people still fall for it in and in total lose hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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