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Author: Age UK
Published on 03 April 2017 04:30 PM

Fraudsters are targeting UK email users in a widespread phishing scam by cleverly disguising themselves.

  • Action Fraud has received over 200 reports from email users over a phishing scam in which fraudsters pretend to be ‘law abiding citizens’
  • The friendly fraudsters provide a link which is used to obtain users’ sensitive personal data
  • Age UK is urging older people to protect themselves from the growing number of online scams and notice the warning signs

Hundreds reporting new scam

Last week, the City of London Police revealed that fraudsters are turning to kindness with new phishing emails which encourage the recipient to open an attachment on the false premise that they could have already fallen victim to scammers.

The Police service’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre – Action Fraud – received 226 reports in the past week from email users who have this email.

How do phishing scams work?

Phishing is one of the main types of email scams which fraudsters use to target people.

In the case of the current scam, opening the attached document leads to malware being downloaded onto the victims’ computer, which attempts to take sensitive data from users. This could be bank details or passwords which can be used to take money from the victim.

Older people particularly vulnerable

According to the Office of National Statistics, fraud is now the most commonly experienced type of crime.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK called it “sad and unfortunate” that many older people in vulnerable circumstances are particularly at risk of online fraud and scams.

This can be attributed to more older people living alone or with dementia and more going online. “It is doubly upsetting,” she noted, “to think that there are fraudsters out there that are happy to exploit those people who have worked and saved throughout their lives.”  

“Thankfully, there are plenty of ways that older people can protect themselves from online fraud, and friends and family can also play a role."

Tips for avoiding scams

Here are some tips on what relatives, friends and older people themselves can do to protect themselves and others from cybercrime.

  • Never click on links or open any attachments in unsolicited emails
  • Refuse to give out personal details including bank account details
  • Set up a spam folder in your email account
  • Always install software updates as soon as they are available
  • To protect yourself from malware, always have up-to-date virus protection installed, but this can't always prevent your computer from becoming infected.

Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081