The Mobile Phone Scam 

02, EE and Vodafone customers are being warned that their bank accounts are at risk from being cleared out by fraudsters. A BBC investigation has discovered that three of the biggest mobile phone providers are Issuing replacement SIM cards without running the proper ID checks. The scam involves criminals posing as legitimate customers, to obtain SIM cards for phone numbers that don’t belong to them, and gaining access to customers phone numbers.

Once a scammer has access to the phone number, not only can they hijack calls and text messages, but, shockingly, they can access a person’s mobile banking applications and have access to their bank accounts. The BBC investigation highlighted how easy it was for fraudsters to obtain SIM cards in other people’s names.

In response to the programme O2 said: “We take fraud and customer security extremely seriously, indeed we were the first network to lead trials with the banks to identify and block fake banking messages. We’d like to reassure our customers that we have Stringent methods in place to ensure they are protected against all types of fraudulent activity”.

Vodafone said: We take the issue of SIM-swap fraud extremely seriously and have put in place measures to tackle it. Every employee in our 400 plus retail stores is given mandatory training, reinforced by regular reminders, which makes clear that a customer must supply photographic ID before completing a SIM swap in store. To support this progress we have provided our stores with ID scanners.”

EE said: “EE takes the safeguarding of customer data extremely seriously and we have strict policies and procedures in place to prevent unauthorised access and SIM swaps, and we continue to work closely with banks and enforcement agencies to help prevent this and other types of fraud”.

Scammers are targeting children who love to play this popular game.

The video game Fortnite is one of the most popular games ever created and, in August alone, nearly 80 million new users signed up to play the free game. Even though Fortnite is free to play, the creator Epic Games is raking in an estimated $300 million a month in revenue. This unprecedented stream of income comes from the in-game purchases of digital currency known as V-Bucks. Players can purchase V-Bucks to unlock certain items such as skins and armoury. V-Bucks purchased items don’t impact the game directly, but it has certainly created a level of competition amongst gamers, who all want to own the latest and coolest items. And these items are not cheap either, a newly released skin can cost anything from £10-£50. However, the popularity of the game and the high prices for sought after items has opened the door to the scammers looking to exploit the games young players.

Between September and October this year, Zerofax, a cyber security company, discovered 53,000 different instances of online scams related to Fortnite, the majority of which came from social media campaigns. A staggering 86% came from social media, 11% came from web domains and the rest came from YouTube promoted videos.

What are Fortnite scams and how do they work?

The  games creator, Epic Games, have made it so you can only purchase V-Bucks directly from the game itself. But for children whose parents wont continually fund their gaming habit or for players looking to save a few quid, the lure of free V-Bucks is very appealing. If you enter a Fortnite search on the internet your will find thousands of sites offering free V-Bucks and it is important to warn your younger family members not to be tempted. The games creators have made it clear there is no way to obtain free V-Bucks other than to play the game itself or purchase them through the game store. If they do click on any of these advertisements and fake Fortnite sites and hand over their password, they are leaving their account open for scammers to access an incredible amount of personal information, such as home address, bank account details and birth date.

As long as Fortnite remains as popular as it is the V-Bucks scams will continue to circulate. Players, parents, family and friends should be careful and avoid cutting corners with third-party offers. The best way to avoid Fortnite related scams is to only purchase V-Bucks directly from the Fortnite store and never ever share your personal information online.

Fake TV Licensing emails !

Criminals are targeting the public with fake emails and attempting to steal their personal information. Action Fraud have reported that in September and October alone, 2,685 reports have been made to their phishing reporting tool online.

These fraudsters are sending out convincing fake TV License emails regarding refunds and payment issues. The emails claim that TV Licensing has been trying to contact customers regarding the payment of a bill or a change to their personal information. These emails are designed to trick people into clicking on the link within it, when the victim clicks on the link they will be diverted to an authentic looking TV Licensing Website. This sites sole purchase is to harvest information and steal personal and financial details from people. The fake site will ask people to add their payment details, and this could lead to victims having their entire bank accounts wiped out.

A TV Licensing spokesperson said: “TV Licensing will never email customers, unprompted, to ask for bank details and/or your personal information, or tell you that you may be entitled to a refund. We encourage anyone who has provided their details as a result of a fraudulent email to contact their bank urgently and to report the email to Action Fraud.”

TV Licensing has issued a helpful list of ways to spot a scam email:

1. Never answer an unsolicited email from TV Licensing – the organisation will never email you, unprompted, to tell you that you’re entitled to a refund or ask for bank details/personal information.
2. Check the email contains your name – TV licensing will always include your name in any emails they send you.
3. Check the email subject line – anything along the lines of “Action required”, “Security Alert”, “System Upgrade”, “There is a secure message waiting for you”, and so on, should be treated as suspect.
4. Check the email address – does the email address look like one that TV Licensing use? For example Look closely as often the address may be similar.
5. Check for a change in style – often the scammers will take the real emails and amend them. Look out for changes in the wording used, especially if it seems too casual or familiar.
6. Check for spelling and grammar – are there any spelling mistakes, missing full stops or other grammatical errors?
7. Check the links go to the TV Licensing website – hover over the links in the email to see their destination and check the web address carefully. If you are not sure, go directly to the TV Licensing website.

All of TV Licensing’s guidance on this issue is available on their website.