Keep Yourself Safe - Fraud Prevention and Security
As you will know from the Parish News mail sent out on 31st August there has been an email scam perpetrated amongst our parishioners. We want to offer some advice and help and will therefore post any pertinent information on our website. This cannot be comprehensive but we hope will serve as a guide to point you in the right direction and help you to make the right decisions.
Please, however, be aware that these scams can come in other forms besides email. They may be phone scams or even perpetrated by people knocking at your door. So although our advice is more relevant to IT scams please always be cautious when receiving any form of unsolicited contact.
How do I know if it is a scam?
There is a wealth of information about scams. We have made available a couple of articles on our website under the title Keep Yourself Safe. If we find something else that is relevant it will also be posted there. Meanwhile below are a few pointers that may help.
Phone: If you receive a phone call purporting to be from Microsoft, BT, Virgin, TalkTalk, your bank, a department store saying that your computer or bank account has some form of problem then put the phone down immediately. On no account allow anyone to remotely access your computer to ‘fix’ it nor to have your password, account number, PIN etc.
The same rules apply if you receive a call purporting to be from a priest, friar, the parish office or representative of a church group.Is it genuine? Why would they be calling you? If in any doubt put the phone down immediately.
Be suspicious! Do not give away any information!
If you have any concerns you can always phone your bank, the department store, church etc by using a legitimate number for them – not the one given to you by the caller.
Email: These tend to be mass mailings and will typically not address you by name or they will use a generic title such as Dear Office Manager, Esteemed Customer, Parishioner etc Another giveaway sign is incorrect use of English or talking in general rather than specific terms (e.g. John needs help, rather than John Smith needs help).
They may (supposedly) be from a parishioner who is stranded abroad having been mugged and lost their money and tickets home and asking you to advance them a small sum to get home. They may be asking you to help the sick or the poor – in fact anything to bring out your Christian spirit.
They may also be ‘blackmail’ emails – e.g. ‘We know what you have been looking at on the web. Unless you pay us we will send the information to your friends, colleagues, church etc.’
The golden rule is be suspicious. Do not reply to such emails. It only confirms your address and this may then be used for further scams.
You can always contact priests, friars, the parish office or representative of a church group to check. However, make sure that you are using a known bona fide email address or phone number – not one that has been given to you by the scammer.
We are currently working with the Finance Committee and various organisations such as Fundraising, CAFOD, SVP to ask that they do not contact individuals asking for donations of any sort. Instead they should always do so via the parish newsletter or announcements from the pulpit. If a general mailing is required it should be announced in advance so that people will be able to identify it as being genuine.
What can I do if I have been the victim of a scam?
Immediate things that you can do are:
Change your email password.
Run a virus scan on your computer and/or phone, tablet etc.
Report it to the Police and also to Action Fraud
You can also view these websites:
Ensure that you are using a legitimate and respected anti-virus protection program.
Do not allow any one to remotely access your PC.
Do not give out passwords, PINs etc
Ensure you use secure and difficult to guess passwords – e.g. not the name of your spouse, child or pet, not your birthday and certainly not something like passw0rd or password123