09 Aug

The Most Common E-mail Scams To Be Wary Of – And How To Avoid Them

road-sign-464653_1280E-mail is a method of communication which is used more than you may think. Some of you will use e-mails occasionally if it’s for personal use, while others might send a lot if they’re using it for business. The fact is e-mail is hugely popular and it is estimated that roughly 217 billion e-mails are sent every day!

Fraud is something which occurs in all walks of life but the threat of e-mail scams is getting worse as time goes on.

The term for most e-mail scams is “phishing” and it’s where people try and get your personal information, bank details or other personal details pretending to be someone else.

As well as getting your personal details or trying to get money from you, phishing scams have evolved to include malicious software which could be used to ‘take over’ your computer – and this threat has been referred to in the news as “ransomware”.

Below I detail the most common e-mail scams to be wary of, based on experiences I have had in business.

Online Banking Scams

Aim: To get your bank account details and then access your bank account.

These fake e-mails will appear to come from reputable banks such as Barclays, NatWest, Lloyds TSB, HSBC, Halifax (in fact it could come from any bank) and basically make out that if you don’t verify your details by clicking on the link then your account will be shut down.

When you click on the link, you will be taken to a fake website which looks like the actual banks website, with an option to put in your personal and bank details. Unfortunately, when you submit this information you have just given all your details to an online scammer, who will use this information to access your bank account and take your money.

This scam works because most people will have a bank account with one of the major banks and believe that this e-mail is actually for them. Unfortunately, this same e-mail would have been sent to thousands of unsuspecting recipients in the hope a few will hand over their bank details.

Facebook / Social Media Scams

Aim: To gain access to your Facebook profile.

A relatively new phishing scam purports to be from Facebook, saying that you have notifications or new friend requests that need your attention. Once you click on the link you are taken to a fake Facebook website which will ask you for your username and password. When you submit these details however they are just sent to a scammer who now can access your personal details and messages held on your Facebook account.

They will do this most likely so they can take your identity and sent messages on your behalf, to try and get money or information from the people on your friends list.

Royal Mail / DHL / Other Delivery Services

Aim: To install malicious software / ransomware on your computer.

Unfortunately a few people I know have been a victim of this scam and it is very damaging to your computer and the data held on it. The e-mail pretending to be from a delivery service (could be Royal Mail, DHL, Yodel, etc.) sends you an e-mail saying that they attempted to deliver a package for you but it could not be delivered (for whatever reason).

To access the details of the undelivered package, you need to click on the attachment on the e-mail which will provide all the information. Most unsuspecting people will click on this link either because they might be expecting a package (and it’s just coincidence that they received this scam e-mail at the same time) or because they are curious. Unfortunately, once this file is clicked a virus is installed on the computer and the ransomware takes hold of the system.

The examples or ransomware I have seen have basically locked down the computer, rendering all files, documents, images, software programs, etc. unusable – and the only way to ‘unlock’ these files so they can be accessed again is to pay the scammer a ransom fee which could range from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand, and usually the ransomware will increase the fee on daily basis, making the victim panic and pay before the price gets too high.

The increased threat of ransomware can be reduced somewhat if you can do regular backups of your important files.

E-mail Mailbox is Full / Needs Upgrading

Aim: To gain access to your e-mails and contacts.

Like the banking scam, this fake e-mail will pretend to come from your e-mail provider and tell you that unless you click on the link and “upgrade” then your e-mails will be shut down. Of course this is not true but if you click on the link the fake website will ask for your e-mail address and password, and when submitted will go to the scammer.

Once they have your e-mail address and password, they can read your e-mails, send e-mail messages pretending to be from you and try and con your contacts or send them viruses such as ransomware.

Your Friend Is Abroad And In Need Of Serious Help

Aim: To extract money from you.

If someone you know has had their e-mail address hijacked (see the scam above) then a common scam these con artists try and pull is this:

Say your friend, we’ll call him James, has had his e-mail address compromised. You will receive an e-mail from “James” (who is really the scammer) telling you that he is abroad and was in a terrible accident, where he lost his wallet and is in desperate need of money to get home, otherwise he is stranded in a foreign country. To make it even easier for you, “James” promises that once he returns he will pay you back in full.

So if you get taken in by this scam you reply that you want to help, and then his response will be to make a bank transfer into his account so he can get out of trouble. Unfortunately, the details aren’t your friend James’ bank account but of a scammer – and once you’ve made that payment there is no way to get your money back!

Nigerian Riches Scam

Aim: To take your money.

This is one of the oldest e-mail scams going and the vast majority of people will have received one of these before and probably had a bit of a chuckle to themselves before deleting it. Unfortunately though, there are still people who are taken in by this scam (usually those who are vulnerable) and its aim is to simply take your money.

You will receive an e-mail from a person purporting to be from a Nigerian King (or some other Nigerian Government official) who is informing you that you are the beneficiary of some vast wealth (somewhere in the region of $100 million USD – yes, I’m not kidding) and the only way to access this is to give them all your personal details and bank account information.

Once you give them this, they will claim that they had some issues sending you the money (there’s a surprise!), so to overcome these problems you will need to make a small transfer (usually a few hundred pounds) to help with the administration error which is holding up the payment to you. They will then make up some other cock-and-bull story up and ask for more money.

People who have been taken in by this scam have usually sent out several payments, usually increasing over time – in a more desperate need to access this vast amount of money. As you may have guessed, these payments are long gone and there’s no way of getting them back.

You’ve Won The Lottery! Or Won A Prize Draw

Aim: To obtain your personal details for identity theft.

This phishing scam is from a “Lottery” company claiming you’ve won a large amount of money, or a business telling you that you’ve won an iPad or some other prize in a prize draw. But obviously you never bought a ticket to this lottery or even entered this prize draw.

To claim your “prize”, you need to click on their website and enter all your personal details (full name, date of birth, telephone number, address, etc.) but all this does is send all this information to a scammer for malicious purposes.

How To Avoid E-mail Scams

Now that you’ve read about some of the most common e-mail scams, you should helpfully be better informed about the different phishing scams that are out there.

Below are a few tips to help you identify whether you’ve received a scam e-mail:

  • Check the e-mail address which sent the e-mail. If it has been sent from a free e-mail provider such as @hotmail.co.uk, @outlook.com or @gmail.com, chances are it’s a scam.
  • Who is the e-mail addressed to? If it says ‘Dear friend’ or something generic greeting it’s likely to be a scam e-mail sent as part of a mass mailing to thousands of people.
  • If there are mistakes in spelling and grammar that is usually a tell tale sign that it is not a legitimate e-mail.
  • Scams work on urgency and panic – so if the message in some way tries to scare you then the likelihood is it’s a scam. Scammers prey on those who worry and telling you that you bank account or e-mail address might be shut down is one of the ways they scare you into giving them your personal information.
02 Aug

5 Reasons Why You Need To Redesign Your Website

10306516475_acf6d80077_bHaving an online presence is extremely important these days but unfortunately not all websites are created equal. Having a fantastic looking website is very important but you also need to have all the important ingredients so that it is an effective medium to increase sales and generate leads.

Your website really is the face of you and your business – it’s often the first thing people see. So you want to make a great first impression right?

A redesign might not necessarily mean a massive overhaul, it could just be a few tweaks here and there to maximise your websites potential!

Don’t forget Wirral Wide Web Design currently have some special offers on until the end of August where you can save up to £295 on their services!

There are many reasons why you would need to redesign your website, but below are the Top 5:

It’s Not Mobile Friendly / Compatible

This is one of the main problems most people have with their websites today. With technology changing all the time, the way people view websites has changed. While the days of ‘surfing the web’ on computers and laptops hasn’t completely disappeared and is still popular, the rapid rise of the smart phone has meant most people are now viewing websites using an iPhone, iPad or Android device. And why not? Simply getting your phone out of your pocket or purse means you’re instantly connected.

Depending on how old your website is, it might just not be mobile compatible or mobile friendly. With users going on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and other social media applications on their phone these days, they are more likely to check out your website on their smart phones as well – and if you don’t have a mobile version of your website online then it just doesn’t look right on their phones. And if it doesn’t look right on their phones, you’re potentially losing out on a lot of customers.

Wirral Wide Web Design create a mobile friendly version of your website as standard when you get a CMS or website designed by them, so click here for more information.

You’re Not Getting The Results You Want

Have you had a website created and had no response from it? Perhaps you’re sceptical about whether having a website is worth it and are disillusioned about having one in the first place. But a correctly designed website is always a useful marketing tool and it’s important to have a website which generates customers.

Wirral Wide Web Design can complete a completely free evaluation of your website, outline where they think things can be improved and suggest ways to ensure your site reaches the customers you deserve.

Your Website Is Old Fashioned and Outdated

If your website is old then it might just look outdated and stale. A redesign can renew interest in your business and generate a buzz about your services and products. A new website design can be relaunched and promoted on social media and give people a reason to visit your website.

Unfortunately, roughly 75% of people will (rightly or wrongly) judge the credibility of a business based solely on the design of your website. And of course you want to look credible at the very least!

If your website looks old or outdated, then your potential customers and clients are just a couple of clicks away from seeing a competitors website which looks more professional, and going with them instead of you.

Ask yourself this – if you had a choice between 2 companies and one had an old, outdated website and the other a modern, professional site – which business would you use?

You’re Not Incorporating Social Media To Help Market Your Business

If your website isn’t incorporating social media in some form then you’re behind the times (and most likely behind your competitors). The bare minimum would be to have links to your social media accounts on your websites but ideally you would have your Facebook page and Twitter account fully integrated into your website so they are all linked together and work in tandem for promoting your services and products.

Redesigning your website will make it easier for people to connect with you socially and more importantly spread the word about your businesses and services via social networks.

You Want Greater Control Over Your Website

Do you have a website which just ‘sits there’? Do you have the ability to update your website whenever you want?

Then maybe you need a Content Management System.

A Content Management System, or CMS, allows you to update your website with your latest offers, add and edit content, plus much more, whenever you want. Keeping customers and website visitors engaged is one of the most important things and regularly updating your website allows you to do this.

With a Content Management System, you can also keep track of which pages on your site are performing better than others, keep track of which products and services people are more interested in and see how your website is performing online.

The things you can do with a CMS are almost endless and more importantly it puts you in complete control, and can help you build you business and grow depending on the trends of your customers.