When identity theft happens over the internet it is called ‘phishing’. ‘Phishing’ is a scam where fraudsters use scam emails, text messages or phone calls to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing personal and financial information that can be used to steal the victim’s identity. The aim is often to make you visit a website, which may download a virus onto your computer, or steal bank details or other personal information. Phishing is one of the most common reasons why your email gets hacked.
With ‘phishing’, disreputable companies gather people’s personal details and then use these details to commit various types of fraud. These could be submitting fraudulent insurance claims on your behalf, credit card fraud, identity theft and computer or online account hacking. There have even incidences of houses sold whilst the owners were on holiday.
Who does this affect?
The worrying thing about the recent surge in ‘phishing’ is that it can affect any one of us. Cold calling scams, fraudulent emails and fake social media advertisements are just a few ways fraudsters can exploit.
What should I look out for?
Second only to banking account information, most valuable to fraudsters are the details of people who have had accidents. You may have heard about such calls, or even received them yourself. These approaches can also come via text message, email, social media or from adverts on websites.
How to reduce the risk of being victim to a phishing attempt:
- We advise against giving your details to unknown callers, or pursuing an insurance claim with companies who cold call you or contacts you out of the blue, by any other means.
- Never give out banking or personal information to cold callers.
- If you are suspicious of a cold call, hang up and then contact the company in question by a verified telephone number, such as from a paper bill or statement.
- If you wish to pursue an insurance claim, we advise you always contact your insurance company using the contact details on your insurance policy documents.
How do I report this type of fraud?
If you receive a suspicious call trying to obtain your personal details, you can report it at the Action Fraud website or telephone line. Action Fraud is the central UK police organisations for reporting all UK frauds, unrelating to insurance. Visit Actionfraud or call 0300 123 2040.