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. 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 you are unsure and it is a phone call, hang up, use a mobile phone and call the legitimate phone number as given in the phone book or on an official website. Never call the number the scammers give you back.
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.
- List of various hoaxes and email scams - HoaxSlayer
- What to do if you think you may be a victim of a scam - UK Police
- Spam and scam email and other advice on how to stay safe online - Get Safe Online
- Advice from Microsoft
- A list of 10 common scams from About.org
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 AVG or Avast which are free. We currently use Avast at Approachable Technology. If you install the free version of Avast or AVG, 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. New viruses are being created all the time and are therefore not always known about by the anti-virus companies until some time later. Additional free programs can be installed, 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 so if you feel you are getting a good deal, then feel free to pay for it!
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.