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Fraudulent and Copycat Websites

The first port of call for links to use for official government services of any kind is the website:

www.gov.uk

Do not be embarrassed if you have been a victim of fraud. Report it to Action Fraud:

www.actionfraud.police.uk

0300 123 2040

 

If you receive a suspicious email, forward it to:

phishing@gov.uk

and then delete it.

Some of the more common scams involve:

  • Calls from Fake Police Officers
  • Calls from Fake Bank Staff
  • Unpaid TV Licences
  • Unpaid Income Tax
  • Unpaid Fines
  • Debts and Bailiff Visits
  • Lottery Wins
  • Tax Refunds
  • Computer Problems
  • Offers Too Good to Miss
  • Pension Plans
  • High Interest Investments

But the list is endless...

 

While most of us are aware that emails and phone calls are used by faudsters to cheat us, we may not always realise the dangers of fraudulent websites.

Scam and phishing emails often contain instructions to click on links but this is something you should never do because the website you open can contain malicious computer code that will infect your device. If you are unsure about a message and whether the sender is genuine genuine, you should get the sender’s genuine website address from a separate and independent source.

The best way is to look for it on any official correspondence you have received from them.

Doing a web search always carries risks. Website owners can pay to have their addresses listed near or at the top of the results, sometimes pushing genuine entries down to the second or subsequent pages. Research shows that most people never look further than the first page.

If you are searching for a particular organisation, always enter its name fully and accurately and then look at the description to decide whether you have found the official site. Fake website addresses are often designed to look as if they are real.

A lot of searches, however, are not that specific and use keywords such as ‘driving licence’.

While not all of the websites listed may be fraudulent, many will be barely legal and less than ethical.

If you want to change the address on your driving licence you can do so, free of charge, through the official DVLA website. Searching with general terms like ‘driving licence’ will list  other websites that offer the same service but for a fee! All they do is forward your details on to the DVLA, after you have paid them, of course! What else they do you’re your information, you may never know. These are described as copycat sites since they pretend to be something that they are not.

One victim typed ‘McAfee’ into a search engine because they wanted help from the respected computer security company. They clicked on a prominent link that they wrongly thought to be genuine but actually contacted fraudsters, who obtained their personal details and took control of their computer.

Other such websites mimic those of reputable companies, offering desirable items for sale at bargain prices that seem too good to be true. Having paid for something you either never hear from them again or receive a cheap and inferior item. These can be counterfeit copies of well-known, respected brands that can be dangerous because they do not meet the strict international safety standards. This is especially true of electrical goods but also of things like toys that are made from prohibited materials that can harm children.

It may be a bit simplistic to say that we only get what we pay for but, more often than not, it is true. We all like a bargain but it pays to be cautious because some offers really are too good to be true.

Always stay alert and be sure that a website is genuine before you part with your money and bank details. Check that it has the padlock icon to show that it is verified. Poor spelling or grammar should ring alarm bells.

The first port of call for links to use for official government services of any kind is the website:

www.gov.uk