Major scams include calls from the police (you need to help them with a crime by transferring money), Amazon (you've been charged for something), Skype (you have a voicemail waiting), your bank / Paypal / credit card provider (your account has been restricted, you need to verify some details), Royal Mail or another parcel courier (we have a parcel for you), HMRC (tax refund or fine), computer company (there is a problem with your computer), your broadband provider (there is a problem with your internet connection), TV license (unpaid or fine).
None of these organisations will email or phone you about these subjects. They would either write to you via the postal service or just not contact you at all. Amazon or BT or Microsoft or your ISP (Internet Service Provider) will never contact you if there is a problem, it is up to you to contact them if you think there is a problem. Your bank and the police will never contact you in this fashion nor will they ever ask you to transfer money to a "safe" account. Royal Mail or other parcel couriers will leave a note through your door.
All of these scams are trying to confuse you, scare you and harass you into giving over personal details or money. If someone is saying you need to make an immediate decision on something, such as your internet will be cut off in 20 minutes unless you contact them, or HMRC will issue a warrant for your arrest unless you contact them, it is a scam. A genuine company would give you time to think about what they are telling you.
If you are still unsure and you were contacted via a phone call, hang up, use a different type of phone (mobile if they called to your landline and landline if they called to your mobile) and call the legitimate phone number as given in the phone book or on an official website or paperwork you have received from them. Never call the number the callers give you.
If you are still not sure as to the validity of an email / telephone call, or do not wish to use the internet to check, contact us with the details you have (email addresses, company name, telephone number, details of query), and we can check if it matches any of the known scams.
If you think you have been subject to a scam, please contact the police immediately or call 0300 123 2040 Monday to Friday 8am - 8pm, or 999 if the scam is progress.
If you are subject to insessent scam calls, consider getting a call blocker such as the one from True Call.
New viruses are being created every minute in an attempt to gain access to your computer. It is essential you have an active anti-virus program running ALL the time, such as Norton, Symantec, McAfee, which you pay for, or Avast which is free. In addition Microsoft have an inbuilt virus checker called Windows Defender which you can also use for free. If you install the free version of Avast, be careful as you click through the installation process, they will try and get you to try or buy the paid for version.
However a virus checker is not totally sufficient. Additional free programs can be installed that look for spyware and malware, such as Malware Bytes and Super Anti Spyware. Both of these additional programs, do not run automatically, so we suggest once a month you ensure they are up to date (with the latest virus definitions) and you run a full system scan. As with the free anti-virus programs, they will try to get you to try or buy their paid for version, so be careful during the installation process. Having said that, the paid for versions are not that expensive.
Backing up your data is as important as the data you wish to backup. You do not know when your computer hard-disk may fail, you may get burgled, you may just drop coffee on your laptop. Backup to a different medium, such as a USB memory stick, external hard drive, cloud storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive.