1 April 2023
3 min read
Your personal and financial information is extremely valuable to criminals. Getting their hands on your name, address, telephone number, bank account details and card details allows them to steal your identity and your money.
Criminals use ‘social engineering’ techniques to gain your trust and deceive and manipulate you into giving them your confidential and personal information.
A common social engineering tactic is to send fake emails (phishing) and text messages (smishing) that look very genuine. They may pose as genuine companies, such as your bank, a delivery company, a utilities company or a government agency.
Fake messages often include links and telephone numbers, designed to capture your information, either by getting you to enter it into a fake website or leading you to call the criminal directly. The information they get may be enough to steal your identity or your money, but all a criminal needs is your name and phone number, which makes it much easier to try an impersonation scam.
They may then pose as someone from an organisation, or as someone you know, over the phone or through more fake messages. They will sound more convincing as they already know something about you. They may try to pressure you into giving them more of your information or sending them money.
The messages are designed to trick you into doing something, such as clicking on links, opening attachments or responding with sensitive information, such as your bank account and card details.
You may have already seen fake messages as they’re sent to many people. For example, in the summer of 2021 alone, 45 million people in the UK received a fake message. They often urge you to do things such as:
Fake messages can be sophisticated and designed to look very similar to a genuine message from the company they’re impersonating. They often copy the language and format that the genuine company uses.
To help give you an idea of they look like, we’ve gathered some examples of fake messages.
Remember to look out for these signs of a fake message:
And remember this important advice to protect yourself and keep your information safe:
If you’d like to learn more about how to protect yourself from cybercrime, we’ve put together some interactive activities to help you improve your cyber security awareness.
Take Five is a national campaign that offers straightforward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from fraud. Visit: takefive-stopfraud.org.uk for more information.
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