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Watch out for phishing scams

4 May 2020

What phishing is

Phishing attacks are a means to persuade you into divulging sensitive information such as credentials, or bank and credit card details. The attack usually takes the form of spam mail, malicious websites, instant messages or text messages, appearing to be from a legitimate source such as a bank or a social network. Once clicked, you may be sent to an unofficial website which could download viruses onto your computer, or steal your passwords.

Why we're more at risk at the moment

Given the current coronavirus pandemic, cyber criminals are sending emails that claim to have a cure for the virus, offer a financial reward, or encourage you to donate. Like many phishing scams, these emails are preying on real-world concerns to try and trick you into clicking.

Protect yourself and the council from phishing

Always be suspicious of any emails asking you to check or renew your credentials even if it seems to come from a trusted source. Please try to verify the authenticity of the request through other means, do not click on suspicious links or open emails and attachments from suspicious email addresses. If a message seems suspicious and you cannot verify the authenticity, delete it straight away.

Common signs to look out for:

  • Authority - is the sender claiming to be from someone official (like your bank, doctor, a solicitor, government department)? Criminals often pretend to be important people or organisations to trick you into doing what they want.
  • Urgency - are you told you have a limited time to respond (like in 24 hours or immediately)? Criminals often threaten you with fines or other negative consequences.
  • Emotion - does the message make you panic, fearful, hopeful or curious? Criminals often use threatening language, make false claims of support, or tease you into wanting to find out more.
  • Scarcity - is the message offering something in short supply (like concert tickets, money, or a cure for medical conditions)? Fear of missing out on a good deal or opportunity can make you respond quickly.
  • Current events - are you expecting to see a message like this? Criminals often exploit current news stories, big events or specific times of year (like tax reporting) to make their scam seem more relevant to you.

There's more about information security and fraud awareness during the COVID-19 pandemic in the document attached to this page. And make sure you up to date with the latest information security advice.