Over the past few weeks we have seen an increase in the number of people reporting to have been locked out of their email and falling victim to fraudulent organisations claiming to unlock their email for a fee.
This is a typical “phishing scam” but cyber criminals appear to be using newer and more convincing methods to hook you in.
The scenario is this… You receive an email informing you that your account (email, bank, paypal, anything) will be closed or suspended unless you verify the account. The email may contain a link or attachment. By clicking on this link and proceeding to verify your account details, you have in fact just sent your login details off to the fraudsters.
This used to be where the scam ended, fraudsters gaining access to your email account to unlock other passwords such as your Ebay, Paypal, Amazon, iTunes, etc.
Now there is an increase in this scam taking one further step to ensure that they gain payment from you. Once they have gained access to your email account, they change the security details to prevent you unlocking it. Next they will suggest that you call the number provided if you have trouble gaining access to your email. This is a premium rate number, furthermore once you have spent half an hour on the line, you will be informed that to finalise the email unlock procedure there is the small fee of £52.
All so obvious in hindsight.
How to avoid falling victim to these scams:
Look in your email settings now by clicking on settings, options, profile preferences, etc and make sure your security information is up to date. Enter a telephone verification number if possible which means if you get locked out of your email, a text will be sent to your mobile with an unlock code.
Do not speak to Microsoft on the phone. (Why?) They don’t do telephone support. Let’s face it, if Microsoft offered telephone support they’d need a call centre with twice the population of China to handle the calls. Microsoft do offer support, in the form of the Microsoft “kb” (knowledge-base) which is a vast online help resource.
Websites claiming to be telephone support for Microsoft are just that. Look at the wording… Telephone Support For Microsoft. I could open a website and claim to offer financial advice for HSBC customers. When you call the number I would ask for your account and security details to verify that you are who you say you are! Ludicrous isn’t it.
Be on your guard and don’t be tempted to click on a link within an email unless you were expecting that email.