Monday 26 February 2024

Don’t lose out before flying out: Action Fraud urge holiday makers to watch out for fraudsters online

Sun seekers looking to book their summer getaway are being warned to look out for fraudulent deals, as new data released today shows victims lost a staggering £12.3 million to holiday fraud last year.

Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting service, has launched a holiday fraud campaign ahead of the summer months, urging holiday goers to play it safe online and do their research before booking their trip. 

Last year, 6,640 reports of holiday fraud were made to Action Fraud and data shows July and August saw highest number of reports made, at 804 and 781 respectively.

Holiday makers lost a combined total of £ 12.3 million, meaning there was an average loss of £1,851 per victim.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:

“As people think ahead to book their holidays, understandably everyone is increasingly on the lookout for the best deals. With the cost-of-living crisis squeezing our finances, it's easy to forget to stay vigilant against fraudsters offering cheaper deals and great prices that are too good to be true.

“We want to avoid people losing their hard-earned money and help raise awareness of the signs of holiday fraud. Before booking any trips or signing up to any deals, do your research and check for ABTA and ATOL logos before clicking the confirmation button. Remember: stay alert online and be wise to fraudsters.”

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, said:

“Fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated methods to target consumers, with a particular focus on destinations and times of year when demand is high and availability limited, as they know people will be looking for good deals. Victims will often only find out they have been defrauded just before they are due to travel, or even in a resort, when it can be very difficult to find a legitimate replacement leading to yet more cost and potential disappointment.

“One of the simplest ways to protect yourself when booking is to look for a company that is a member of ABTA when booking your holiday.”

Anna Bowles, Head of Consumers and Enforcement at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, which runs the ATOL financial protection scheme, said:

“Our research shows almost three in five of us are planning to go overseas this summer and expect to spend thousands of pounds on these trips. Before booking your trip abroad make sure you are doing everything you can to thwart fraudsters.

“Some protective measures include visiting the atol.org website to check your package trip is financially protected by ATOL, pay by credit card if you can, and take out travel insurance as soon as you book.”

Holiday makers are encouraged to take precautions and do their research online to ensure holidays are booked safely, without a hitch. Remember, don’t get caught out and lose out.

Top tips to help prevent falling victim to holiday fraud:

  • Do your research: before committing and booking your dream holiday, make sure that you do a thorough online search to ensure the company is credible.
  • Pay safely: use a credit card when shopping online, if you have one. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases.
  • Look for the logo: make sure they're a licensed company and check that they are properly accredited. Look for an ATOL (Air Travel Organiser's Licence) or a membership of ABTA, The Travel Association.
  • Stay safe online: use three random words to create a strong password for your email that’s different to all your other passwords. If a 2-step verification option is available, always set it.
    • Beware of suspicious messages: be cautious of unexpected emails or messages offering unrealistic holiday deals. If you receive a suspicious email, report it by forwarding it to report@phishing.gov.uk
    • Protect personal information: only fill in the mandatory details on a website when making a purchase. If possible, don't create an account for the online store when making your payment.
  • Book with confidence: be sceptical of unrealistic holiday deals. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Exercise caution and research before making purchases.

For further tips from ATOL and ABTA, visit https://www.atol.org/about-atol/how-to-check-for-protection/ or https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/planning-and-booking-a-holiday/how-avoid-travel-related-fraud.

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. If you live in Scotland, call Police Scotland on 101.

Source: Action Fraud (26-02-2024)

actionfraud.police.uk/holidayfraud


Safeguard Your Devices: Comprehensive Security for Your Router and Wi-Fi

Your home Wi-Fi network acts as a gateway to the vast internet, and just like your home, you want to keep it secure. Here are some steps you can take to enhance your router and Wi-Fi security:

Securing your Router:

  • Change default credentials: Routers come with pre-set usernames and passwords for accessing their settings. These are often generic and easily guessable by attackers. Change them to strong, unique combinations that you don't use elsewhere.
  • Enable Wi-Fi encryption: This scrambles the data transmitted over your network, making it unreadable to anyone eavesdropping. Use WPA2 or, if your router supports it, the newer and more secure WPA3 standard. Avoid the outdated WEP encryption, which is easily cracked.
  • Turn off guest network (if not in use): Guest networks are convenient for visitors, but if you don't use them regularly, consider disabling them to minimize potential vulnerabilities.
  • Disable remote access (if not needed): This feature allows you to manage your router from anywhere on the internet. If you don't use it, disable it to close a potential entry point for attackers.
  • Keep your router firmware updated: Just like software updates for your devices, firmware updates for your router often contain security patches. Regularly check for and install updates from your router manufacturer's website.

Securing your Wi-Fi Network:

  • Choose a strong Wi-Fi name (SSID): Avoid using your home address or personal information in your network name. Keep it simple and unique.
  • Use a strong Wi-Fi password: Create a complex password that combines upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using dictionary words or easily guessable information. Consider using a password manager to generate and store strong passwords for all your devices.
  • Limit connected devices: Only allow authorized devices to connect to your network. Check the list of connected devices in your router settings and remove any unknown or unauthorised ones.
  • Enable your router's firewall: This acts as a barrier, filtering incoming and outgoing traffic and helping to block malicious attempts.
  • Consider using a VPN for added security: A Virtual Private Network encrypts your internet traffic, making it more secure, especially when using public Wi-Fi networks.

Additional Tips:

  • Be cautious with public Wi-Fi: Avoid accessing sensitive information or performing online transactions on public Wi-Fi networks as they are inherently less secure.
  • Educate your family: If you share your Wi-Fi network with family members, make them aware of the importance of strong passwords and safe browsing habits.

By following these steps, you can significantly improve your router and Wi-Fi security, protecting your devices and data from unauthorised access and online threats. Remember, security is an ongoing process, so stay informed and continue to update your devices and practice safe online habits.

Quad9 is a not-for-profit organization that operates a global public recursive DNS resolver, aiming to protect users from malware and phishing.

Here's a summary of Quad9:

  • Mission: To improve the privacy and cybersecurity of internet users.
  • Service: Free, public DNS resolver that blocks malicious domains and protects users from malware, phishing, and other online threats.
  • Benefits:
    • Enhanced security and privacy for internet users
    • Reduced risk of malware infections and phishing attacks
    • Improved overall internet experience
  • How it works: When you use Quad9 as your DNS resolver, it intercepts your DNS requests and checks them against a constantly updated blocklist of malicious domains. If a match is found, the request is blocked, and you are prevented from accessing the harmful website.

Overall, Quad9 is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to improve their online security and privacy. It is a free and easy-to-use service that can help to protect you from a wide range of online threats.

For more information, visit Quad9 and DMARC free cybercrime protection.

Boost Your Browser Security: 9 Easy Steps

Here are some simple steps you can take to enhance your browser security:

1. Keep your browser updated: This is crucial as updates often contain security patches that fix vulnerabilities exploited by malicious actors. Most browsers update automatically, but it's a good practice to check for updates manually once in a while.

2. Use a secure web browser: Popular options like Chrome, Firefox, and Edge offer robust security features. Consider using one with a good reputation for keeping your data safe.

3. Enable security features: Many browsers offer built-in security features like "Safe Browsing" (Chrome) or "Enhanced Tracking Protection" (Firefox). These features help protect you from malicious websites and limit data tracking by advertisers.

4. Be cautious with extensions: While extensions can add functionality, they can also be security risks if not from a reputable source. Only install extensions you need and trust, and keep them updated.

5. Use strong passwords and a password manager: Avoid using the same password for multiple websites and consider using a password manager to generate and store strong, unique passwords for each one.

6. Be mindful of links and downloads: Don't click on suspicious links or download files from unknown sources. Phishing emails and websites often try to trick you into clicking malicious links or downloading malware.

7. Enable "Do Not Track" and manage cookies: While not foolproof, enabling "Do Not Track" tells websites you don't want to be tracked. You can also manage cookies in your browser settings to control how websites store information on your device.

8. Consider using a VPN for public Wi-Fi: A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts your internet traffic, making it more secure when using public Wi-Fi networks, which are often less secure than private networks.

9. Practice safe browsing habits: Be cautious when entering personal information online, especially on unfamiliar websites. Pay attention to the URL address bar for signs of spoofing (fake websites mimicking legitimate ones) and avoid websites with security warnings from your browser.

By following these simple steps, you can significantly enhance your browser security and protect yourself from online threats. Remember, security is an ongoing process, so stay informed and continue to update your browser and practice safe browsing habits.


Thursday 22 February 2024

AI, Deepfakes & Robocalls: the future of scams

In the latest episode of our Which? Get Answers podcast, we dive into AI, deepfakes & robocalls – the future of scams.

With the help of BBC Scam Interceptors co-host Nick Stapelton, we give you the inside scoop into the latest criminal techniques.

Source: Which? (19 Feb 2024)

Scam adverts: are you still being targeted?

Despite the law toughening up on scams last year, we found that scam adverts are still littered across social media and online search results.

Are you still being targeted by fake ads? We explain our findings from our latest investigation and why, when it comes to scams, there are simply no more excuses.

Scam adverts

Source: Which? (20 Feb 2024)

5 scams to watch out for

Scammers are constantly finding new ways to deceive people, even when we think we know how to spot their tricks. One recent example is fraudsters using QR codes to stick phoney QR codes on parking meters, redirecting people to fake payment apps.

Discover the five scams to watch out for this year to stay one step ahead of fraudsters.

Scams to watch out for

Source: Which? (19 Feb 2024)

Scammers target broadband hub users

Broadband hubs are becoming increasingly popular as they provide faster mobile network internet speeds. However, fraudsters are sending scam texts to broadband hub users claiming payments are overdue or that they are facing penalty charges.

Here's a breakdown of how these scams work and tips to avoid falling victim to them.

Our three tips

Source: Which? (21 Feb 2024)

Wednesday 21 February 2024

House fire - Erith 🔥

Six fire engines and around 40 firefighters tackled a fire at a mid-terraced house being used as a cannabis factory on Riverdale Road in Erith.
Most of the roof was damaged and the first floor was destroyed by the fire. A small part of the roof of a neighbouring mid-terraced house was also damaged by the fire. Thankfully, there are no reports of any injuries. 
A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “Cannabis factory fires can be particularly dangerous because of the way criminals use unsafe wiring to illegally obtain electricity in order to grow the plants.

"They're often in top floors or lofts which means when a fire takes hold it spreads, destroying roofs and damaging neighbouring buildings.

"Firefighters can also be exposed to risks when dealing with the fires because of bad wiring and traps at some of the properties.

"It's important that people know the key signs and inform the police so that they can act swiftly to prevent these dangerous fires from happening."

Firefighters used one of the Brigade's 32-metre turntable ladders to tackle the fire from above. 

The Brigade was called at 1627 and the fire was under control by 1829. Firefighters from Erith, Bexley and Plumstead fire stations attended the scene.

Source: LFB (21/02/2024)

Monday 19 February 2024

The Little Guide to... preventing fraud and cyber crime

Stay safe online: simple habits, big protection. Enjoy the web, worry-free! 

Visit the Metropolitan Police site for https://www.met.police.uk/littlemedia

for example (pdfs):

Protect Yourself: Stay Savvy and Avoid Mobile Phone Scams

In today's digital world, our smartphones are more than just communication devices – they're mini-computers carrying sensitive information. Unfortunately, this makes them prime targets for scammers. With the cost of living rising, fraudsters are getting even more creative in their attempts to steal your money and personal details. This blog post, adapted from an article shared by the Metropolitan Police, equips you with the knowledge and tools to stay safe in the mobile jungle.

The Cost of Not Knowing:

  • 1.4 million cases of fraud occurred in the first half of 2023 in the UK, resulting in £580 million stolen from consumers.
  • Data leaks expose your information, making you vulnerable to targeted attacks.

Protect Your Passwords and Data:

  • Change your passwords regularly, especially after data breaches. Avoid using the same password for multiple sites.
  • Use a password manager to create and store strong, unique passwords securely.
  • Enable two-factor authentication whenever available for an extra layer of security.

Mobile Safety Essentials:

  • Download apps only from official stores like Apple iTunes, Google Play Store, and Microsoft Store.
  • Keep your phone's operating system and apps updated with the latest security patches.
  • Never share your bank details or PIN with anyone, even via text or email.
  • Set a strong password or PIN to lock your phone and use fingerprint/facial recognition if available.
  • Consider antivirus software for your phone, especially if you frequently download apps.

Common Mobile Scams and How to Spot Them:

  • Phishing texts (SMiShing): Don't respond to texts asking for personal information, even if they appear from legitimate companies. They'll never ask for sensitive details via text.
  • Fake prize competitions: Don't reply to texts or ads promising unrealistic prizes. Scammers often charge high rates for participating messages.
  • Trivia scams: Be wary of answering seemingly easy questions for a chance to win. They might lure you into expensive premium-rate calls with no real prize.
  • Accident compensation scams: Ignore texts offering money for accidents you haven't had. They're just trying to steal your personal details.

Remember:

  • Don't click on suspicious links in texts or emails.
  • Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi.
  • Stay informed about new scams and tactics.

If you suspect fraud, report it immediately to Action Fraud (UK):

By following these tips and staying vigilant, you can protect yourself from mobile phone scams and keep your money, data, and peace of mind safe.

Sunday 18 February 2024

In Celebration of Ray Hudson: A Heartfelt Goodbye

A quiet hush fell over Eltham Crematorium on Thursday, February 15th, as roughly 50 friends and family gathered to bid farewell to the remarkable Ray Hudson. The air was filled with a mix of love, respect, and gratitude for a man who dedicated countless years to serving his community with unwavering dedication.

Among the mourners were fellow members of Bexley Neighbourhood Watch, including Grant Murrell, Dana Wiffen, Claire Tack, Amrik Seehra, Tony Alcorn, Ray Arnold, and Hazel Ozturk. Their presence reflected not just Ray's commitment to the cause, but the friendships and bonds he forged along the way.

A poignant touch awaited mourners outside the chapel. A stunning display, thoughtfully orchestrated by Claire, showcased the Neighbourhood Watch emblem, standing tall as a testament to Ray's years of service. It served as a silent reminder of the impact he had on his community, a symbol of the countless lives he touched.

The ceremony itself was a beautiful and fitting tribute. Each word spoken, each memory shared, painted a vivid picture of the man Ray was: kind, compassionate, and selfless. The outpouring of emotion and fond recollections left no doubt that his absence would leave a profound void.

More than just a farewell, the service was a celebration of a life well-lived. It was a reminder of the power of community spirit, the difference one person can make, and the lasting legacy left behind when we choose to dedicate ourselves to something greater than ourselves.

Ray Hudson's passing leaves a deep but cherished ache in the hearts of those who knew him. However, his memory will continue to live on, carried forward by the countless lives he touched and the spirit of community he so passionately nurtured.




Saturday 17 February 2024

Beware of Remote Access Scams: Protect Your Device and Data!

Remote access software, while useful for legitimate purposes, can be a scammer's weapon to hijack your device and steal your information.

Here's the danger:

  • Scammers trick you into downloading software like AnyDesk, TeamViewer, etc., claiming to "fix" your device.
  • Once connected, they can steal your files, passwords, and even money.
  • They can use your information for identity theft and other harmful activities.

Protect yourself:

  • Never give remote access to someone you don't know and trust.
  • Be wary of unsolicited calls or messages asking for remote access.
  • Don't click suspicious links or download unknown software.
  • Use strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication.
  • Keep your software and antivirus updated.
  • If you suspect a scam, end the session immediately and report it.

Remember:

  • Legitimate companies won't ask you to download remote access software.
  • Always verify contact information independently before proceeding.
  • When in doubt, say no!

Stay safe and vigilant!

Source: BBC Scam Interceptors series

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Beware! Fake Cadbury Easter Egg WhatsApp Scam Circulating

Chocolate lovers beware! Scammers are impersonating Cadbury on WhatsApp, offering giant Easter eggs as a prize. This is a SCAM! Don't click any links or share personal information.

Here's what you need to know:

  • The scam promises a free giant Easter egg. It's too good to be true! Cadbury is known for shrinking products, not giving them away.
  • The scam directs you to a dodgy website. This website will likely steal your personal information or try to trick you into paying money.
  • The scam spreads through shared WhatsApp messages. If you receive this message, don't share it! Let the sender know it's a scam and delete it.
  • Report suspicious messages to WhatsApp and the National Cyber Security Centre. Help stop the spread of this scam!

Remember: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don't fall victim to this scam! Spread the word and stay safe!

Friday 9 February 2024

Multi-Layered Defense: How Pandora Thwarts Car Thieves

Pandora car alarms use a multi-layered approach to deter and prevent car theft. Here are some key features:

Immobilisation:

  • Multiple immobilisers: Most Pandora systems come with at least two immobilisers, which are electronic devices that prevent the car from starting without the correct key or fob. This makes it much harder for thieves to hotwire the car.
  • Encrypted communication: All communication between the alarm system and the key fob uses 128-bit encryption, making it difficult for thieves to intercept and copy the signal.
  • Anti-hijacking: Some models offer anti-hijacking features, such as immobiliser tags that the owner must carry. If the owner is not present with the tag when the car is started, the engine will shut down.

Detection and Alert:

  • Sensors: Pandora alarms use a variety of sensors to detect unauthorised activity, such as door opening, glass breakage, shock, tilt, and motion.
  • Loud siren: If the alarm is triggered, it will sound a loud siren to deter thieves and alert others in the area.
  • GPS tracking: Some models come with GPS tracking, which allows you to locate your car in real-time if it is stolen.
  • Smartphone notifications: Many Pandora systems can send alerts to your smartphone if the alarm is triggered or if your car is moved without your permission.

Additional security:

  • Thatcham certification: Many Pandora alarms are Thatcham certified, which means they meet the standards set by the UK's leading independent security research centre. This can help you get a discount on your car insurance.
  • OBD port protection: Some models offer protection against OBD port theft, which is a common method used by thieves to steal cars.

It's important to note that no car security system is foolproof, but Pandora alarms offer a high level of protection against car theft. The specific features and level of protection will vary depending on the model you choose.

Here are some additional resources you may find helpful:



Thursday 8 February 2024

Scammers bypass Google ads rules

Scammers have exploited Google's advertiser vetting process and obtained 'verified status' to target the public with convincing fake ads.

One rogue advertiser, with the name 'Vodafone Finance Management', had been verified by Google. But in reality, it had no affiliation with Vodafone. These verified ads were used to appear at the top of search results when people searched for the phone network Lyca Mobile.

It can be difficult to distinguish authentic ads from fake ones, especially now there’s evidence of scammers abusing Google’s platform as verified advertisers. We have some examples to help you spot and dodge fraudulent ads.

Rogue ads

Source: Which? (7 Feb 2024)

Watch out for email phishing scams

Emails, texts and mobile calls are the most used communication methods and have the highest frequency of suspicious activities. A recent survey revealed that almost half of UK adults receive suspicious content through email at least once a week, making email one of the most common channels for scams in the UK.

To minimise the risk of becoming a scam victim, here are some classic signs to watch out for.

Phishing scams

Source: Which? (7 Feb 2024)

Tuesday 6 February 2024

Stay Safe and Informed with FREE Webinars from SAFE by CST!

Protecting yourself and your community is easier than ever. SAFE by CST offers a diverse range of FREE webinars covering essential topics on safety and security.

Here's a quick look at our upcoming events:

Safeguarding:

  • Feb 7th: Countering Radicalisation & Changing Mindsets
  • Mar 7th: Conflict Management
  • Apr 3rd: Safeguarding Awareness (NEW!)

School Security:

  • Feb 20th: Basic Security with London MOPAC
  • Apr 11th: School Security (NEW!)

Online Safety:

  • Feb 26th: Online Safety for Beginners (NEW!)

Other Important Topics:

  • Feb 15th: Women's Safety
  • Feb 22nd: Exploring the Far Right
  • Mar 13th: Incels: Villains or Victims?
  • Mar 21st: Hostile Reconnaissance
  • Apr 18th: Past Terror Attacks - Lessons Learned (Updated!)

Don't miss out! Register for all our webinars here: [link to SAFE by CST Zoom Hub].

Share this information! Help keep your community safe by spreading the word about these valuable resources.

Want to host your own event? Contact SAFE by CST today! (via email)

Stay informed, stay safe, and join us for these essential webinars!

Disable Keyless Entry on Your Mercedes Now! (Safe and Easy Guide)

To disable keyless entry on your Mercedes Benz car. There are two main ways to achieve this, depending on whether you want a temporary or permanent solution:

Temporary disable:

This is the simpler option and can be done with most Mercedes models by double-clicking the lock button on your key fob. This disables the key's signal for a short period, typically until the car is unlocked again. Remember, you'll need to use the physical key to unlock the car next time.

Permanent disable (for individual key):

This method completely disables the keyless entry function for a specific key fob. It's a bit more involved and requires following the specific steps for your car model. Here are some resources that can help:

  • Mercedes-Benz owner's manual: Consult your car's manual for detailed instructions on disabling keyless entry. The process can vary depending on the model and year.
  • Online resources: Search for "disable keyless entry Mercedes [your model year]" to find specific guides and video tutorials.
  • Mercedes-Benz dealership: Your local dealership can also assist you with this process.

Important things to consider before disabling keyless entry:

  • Security: While disabling keyless entry can offer some peace of mind, it's not a foolproof security measure. Other methods like keeping your key fob in a signal-blocking pouch can also be effective.
  • Convenience: Remember that you'll need to use the physical key to lock and unlock the car every time with keyless entry disabled.
  • Warranty: Depending on your car's warranty, modifying the keyless entry system might void it. It's best to consult your dealership before proceeding.

Hope this information helps! Remember, it's crucial to follow the correct instructions for your specific model to avoid any complications. If you're unsure about any step, it's always best to consult a professional.







Friday 2 February 2024

Don't Get Keyjacked: Your Smart Car Has a Secret Shield (You Need to Know About!)

Car thieves are getting tech-savvy, using cheap electronics to steal your precious ride. While some scramble for Faraday cages or tin foil solutions, there's a game-changer hiding in plain sight for most modern smart key cars: a built-in security setting that can shut down these thieves cold.

That's right, your car might have a secret weapon you never knew about. Intrigued? If you own a car with a smart key system, this is essential viewing.

In this eye-opening video, you'll discover:

  • How simple electronics can become high-tech carjacking tools.
  • The hidden security setting in most smart key cars that cripples these methods.
  • Step-by-step instructions on activating this built-in protection (remember, responsible use is key!).

Don't wait for your car to become the next target. Unlock this valuable knowledge and safeguard your vehicle today! Watch the video now and share it with fellow smart car owners – let's keep our rides safe together.

P.S. Remember, using security features responsibly is crucial. This blog post and video are for educational purposes only and should not be used to bypass security measures for illegal activities.



Prevent Keyless Entry Car Theft: Essential Safeguards for 2024

Here are some tips on how to protect your car from keyless entry theft:

1. Store your key fobs in a signal-blocking pouch.

Signal-blocking pouches, also known as Faraday cages, block the radio signals emitted by your key fob, preventing thieves from amplifying the signal and unlocking your car. You can find Faraday pouches online or at most auto parts stores.

2. Disable keyless entry when you're not using your car.

Many cars with keyless entry have a setting that allows you to disable the feature. This is a good option if you're parking your car in a high-crime area or if you're going to be away from your car for an extended period of time.

3. Keep your spare key in a safe place that is not in your car.

If a thief breaks into your car and steals your purse or wallet, they won't be able to steal your spare key if it's not in there. A good place to keep your spare key is at home with a trusted friend or family member.

4. Park in well-lit areas and close to security cameras.


Thieves are less likely to target cars that are parked in well-lit areas or close to security cameras. If possible, park your car in a garage or carport.

5. Be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activity to the police.

https://www.met.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/keeping-vehicles-safe/vehicle-safe-and-sound/

If you see someone acting suspiciously around your car, trust your gut and report it to the police. It's better to be safe than sorry.

By following these tips, you can help to deter keyless entry theft and keep your car safe.

Watch out for this WhatsApp scam

Watch out for this nasty WhatsApp scam that enables hackers to take control of your account and access all of your messages. Find out here h...