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Don’t open any emails or WhatsApp messages without thinking carefully first. That’s the stark new warning from the cyber security team at Kaspersky who say 2021 is turning into another massive year for scammers.
Some of the biggest threats that have been discovered in recent months are targeting email addresses with cyber thieves attempting to trick users with messages that claim custom fees and shipment costs need to be paid before items that have been ordered online can be released.
Due to the pandemic, more of us than ever are ordering products online rather than heading to our local high street and crooks are trying to cash in. Kaspersky says that these mailings often take victims to a fake website, where they risk not only losing money but also sharing bank card details.
Another new threat that’s recently been discovered are fake websites that offer people the chance to buy undelivered parcels that could not reach the intended recipients.
Such websites are set up like a lottery with users not aware of the contents of the package. They bid based on the weight of the box in the hope that it contains something of value. However, once the winning fee is paid the package is never sent and the person loses their money.
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Along with email addresses being scammed, WhatsApp users also need to be on high alert with the popular messaging platform a hotbed for attacks.
During the first part of 2021 a number of scams were discovered on WhatsApp including one where users are asked to take a survey about WhatsApp and send messages to several contacts to receive a prize. Another stated that the users already won a large prize – all they needed to do to collect it is pay a small fee.
Users also received links for fake WhatsApp messenger apps, putting them at risk of downloading malware.
Speaking about the threats Kaspersky’s Tatyana Shcherbakova said: “As in the past, we’re seeing attackers take advantage of new trends and disruptions to steal money and credentials, whether that’s a growing user of messengers or continued problem with mail delivery amidst a pandemic. Spam and phishing schemes are still some of the most effective ways to launch successful attacks because they play on human emotion. The best thing users can do is be wary of any unexpected emails and be very careful about clicking on any email attachments or links—go to the website directly.”
If you’re worried about falling victim to these scams then here’s Kaspersky’s tips on how to avoid them:
• Check any links before clicking. Hover over it to preview the URL, and look for misspellings or other irregularities.
• Even if a message or a letter came from one of your best friends, remember that their accounts could also have been hacked. Remain cautious in any situation. Even if a message seems friendly, treat links and attachments with attention.
• It’s safe practice to check the sender’s address. Most spam comes from email addresses that don’t make sense or appear as gibberish – for example, [email protected] or similar. By hovering over the sender’s name, which itself may be spelled oddly, you can see the full email address. If you’re not sure if an email address is legitimate or not, you can put it into a search engine to check.
• Consider what kind of information is being requested. Legitimate companies don’t contact you out of the blue via unsolicited emails to ask you for personal information, such as banking or credit card details, your Social Security number and so on.
• Be wary if the message is creating a sense of urgency. Spammers often try to apply pressure by creating a sense of urgency. For example, the subject line may contain words like “urgent” or “immediate action required” – to pressure you into acting.
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