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Police warn of fraudsters targeting Staffordshire

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POLICE in Staffordshire have issues a warning about a phishing email claiming to include an invoice from Santander bank being used to try and gain access to funds.

Online security experts are warning computer users to be very wary of emails that claim to contain invoices, even if they appear to be from a trusted source.

Self-employed, freelance and contract workers are particularly vulnerable because they may receive invoices regularly from a number of sources.

Cyber criminals often try to mimic the email address of a legitimate supplier or a colleague or friend in a bid to trick the recipient into thinking the invoice is genuine.

The warning comes after an earlier warning with regards to the fact that fraudsters may be posing as council officials or professionals and cold calling customers stating that they are eligible for a general tax or council tax rebate.

They will invariably use this deception technique, along with texting customers, to convince the intended victims that their tax rebate is legitimate, when in fact this may not be the case. The fraudsters will tell you how much tax you can claim back but emphasise that an advance fee payment is required in order to make the tax claim successful.

There has been a particular increase in the number of reports relating to fake council tax rebates in the last few weeks.

Whilst it may not be necessarily easy to identify if a tax rebate is legitimate, you should undertake suitable due diligence and assure yourself that the tax you are planning to claim is genuine.

Financial Fraud ActionUK’s top tips:

  • Be on the lookout for unexpected invoices or unusual payment requests.
  • Avoid enabling any macros on an untrusted document.
  • If you’re suspicious – don’t reply to the email but instead call your supplier on the number that you have on file to check the authenticity of the invoice.
  • Ensure you have the latest anti-virus and security updates installed on your computer and consider using high-level macro security settings in software applications.
  • Ensure strong firewalls are in place to help detect malware and prevent data leaving the network without permission.
  • Consider using a separate computer dedicated to making online payments to minimise security risks.

If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to  Action fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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