No matter how careful people are about their personal details, phishers have no qualms about trying to get them from you. We explain how to stay safe online
I was issued with an email address when I joined AOL and use it only for friends, family and recognised companies, such as Paypal and Barclaycard. Since I changed my phone line to AOL, which required me to set up a new router, I have had some fraudulent emails.
I have also been contacted by telephone (I am ex-directory and registered not to receive marketing calls) by a free claims service. The emails ask for passwords and other account details.
One email, claiming to be from Paypal, convinced me that it was genuine because it asked me to update my account details as my card was due to expire soon, which was true. I have become suspicious because these emails claim to be from firms that I have used in the past.
Although we usually cover cases where we can act as a mediator, Mrs Burke’s concerns are extremely valid.
She found it odd that she started receiving phishing emails and phone calls after the change-over of her phone service. She was concerned that her data had been leaked by a breach within AOL.
There are incidents of personal details being handed over by call centre staff, but we need to get some perspective on the problem. Phishing emails (which try to trick recipients into revealing personal details) are becoming highly sophisticated.
However, the criminals behind these emails don’t target people individually; they use clever social-engineering tactics, such as claiming an account needs updating. Send the email to enough people and the law of averages ensures they will get this right in a number of cases, as Mrs Burke discovered.
As for the phone calls, lists are sold to companies so they can make phone calls and send text messages about accident and debt claims.
The Office of Fair Trading is investigating this issue, but the information for these calls is unlikely to have come from AOL. We urge people to be wary both online and over the phone about what personal information they give out.
Take a look at the Staying Safe Online website, which deals with online safety, but the same tips apply to unsolicited phone calls.
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