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How to protect yourself against the British Gas email scam
Published 8 October 2016 by Linzi Nuttall
Know what to look out for and how to be vigilant online.
If you follow the news, then you’ll know that fraudsters are finding ever more devious ways to target individuals through various techniques including vishing and phishing. After early figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales reveal that one in 10 people are falling victim to scams, there have been calls for more awareness – and Action Fraud has just launched a new "Take Five To Stop Fraud” campaign in response.
To make sure you know what to look out for when it comes to cybercrime, we're going to take you through the latest scam – the British Gas email scam.
The latest ransomware scam targeting British Gas customers
One of the most recent email scams highlighted by Action Fraud targets British Gas customers.
Looking much like a real bill from British Gas, the email asks customers to click on a link to download a file and view their gas and electricity bill. But if you do so, a virus locks you out of your computer and directs you to an online payment page – this is a scam called ransomware.
The email is often entitled "Your summer gas and electricity bill". But there has been some variations with the subject line "New gas and electricity bill" which includes the victim's full name within the email.
British Gas has responded by saying they always personalise their emails, often quote your British Gas account number and will only provide links back to the British Gas website.
Head to the British Gas website to read more about what they advise.
Remember to be alert for convincing-looking emails
It’s crucial to be mindful of the many scams now targeting individuals. Always follow your instincts: if something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. To help you spot this scam and many of the others that may crop up we reveal some typical signs to look out for:
• If you do receive an email, don’t rush to click on it especially if it’s unexpected or out of the blue. Look at the true destination of a hyperlink. Use your mouse to hover over the link, which will indicate the URL address it will take you to in the bottom left hand corner of your screen. Though an address can look official double check if it’s not, anybody can set up a website and disguise it.
• Poor grammar and spelling as this can be an obvious tell-tale sign of a phishing scam.
• Most genuine emails will address the customer with their name account number or other personal details. Fake emails tend to be more generic and vague starting with “Dear customer” or "Dear Mr/Mrs".
• Protect your computer by making sure to have an up to date antivirus and security protection installed. You don't have to spend a fortune on this, AVG, Panda Security or AVAST all offer free protection. This will provide you with one line extra barrier of safety, but being on the lookout is equally important.
Financial Fraud Action UK have a campaign named “Take Five To Stop Fraud” to encourage consumers in the UK to use their five simple steps and protect themselves against financial fraud. If you ever receive a suspect email claiming to be from thinkmoney, you can contact us at [email protected].
To make sure you can spot the most common phishing emails scams – check out our blog.