Warning to Members of the Public over ‘Phishing Emails’

Officers are warning people to be vigilant when opening unexpected emails to prevent themselves from becoming a victim of cyber criminals who are out to steal private information.

‘Phishing emails’ attempt to lure people into providing personal information by emailing with ‘bait’ headlines such as:

• Attention grabbing subjects
• Time sensitive warnings or offers
• Fraudulent invoices
• Unexpected correspondence or e-cards purporting to be from friends or family

Detective Constable Will Galloway, from the Cyber Crime Unit, said: “The same security measures that people apply to their home need to be applied for online safety, especially with regards to emails. All unexpected emails need to be treated as suspicious as a phishing email may contain links that appear legitimate but they can actually lead to a website managed by fraudsters.

“On a PC, hovering your mouse curser over a link will show you where it actually leads to. People need to be aware of URLs that appear legitimate as they can look like they are leading to a familiar website but they might be missing a letter out of the link.

“Legitimate contacts will not ask you to provide your personal details such as name, address, social media logins and bank card details.

“In addition to this, opening emails which are unexpected can contain malicious programs which can infect your device or leave it vulnerable to an attack.

“If in doubt, do not open unexpected emails and if you believe your bank or service provider is making legitimate attempts to contact you, consider calling them before opening a suspicious email, using a number from a genuine piece of correspondence.”

Some useful links for further advice can be found here:

Get Safe Online: www.getsafeonline.org/cleveland/  
Action Fraud: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk

Action Fraud recommend following the below ‘Stay S.A.F.E’ pointers:

• Suspect anything or anyone you don’t know – no matter who they are or who they claim to be.
• Ask questions. Whatever a fraudster tries, you have the power to stay in control.
• Find out for certain who you’re dealing with. Challenge anything that seems suspect.
• End situations that make you feel uncomfortable. If you feel threatened contact the police.