Enterprising scammers are exploiting panicked investors in the wake of the Brexit referendum. Find out how you can protect yourself.
In the past two weeks, there’s been a surge in emails targeting those concerned about the economy and Britain’s potential exit from the EU.
While it’s tricky for scammers to know which way you voted, a quick search on social media can reveal information which can leave you vulnerable. In some cases, hackers are purposefully targeting those concerned about Brexit by monitoring social media posts, IP addresses and publicly displayed contact information.
Find out more about how Britain leaving the European Union will affect you by visiting our Brexit guide.
How does the scam work?
The inventive email attack has, as its headline, something along the lines of ‘Brexit causes historic market drop’ or similar. It encourages users to immediately click on a link or open an attachment to find out more details.
These emails promise to protect savings from detrimental FTSE changes and currency fluctuations. But they actually load malware, such as viruses, adware and spyware, onto your computer. Once downloaded, they not only bombard you with unwanted advertising, but they can also irreversibly damage files and collect private data which can be used to steal your identity.
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What else should you watch out for?
If you’re active on social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, then take extra care. National eCrime Co-ordinator for the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, Mike Andrews, told us: ‘People who have been actively talking about Brexit on social media channels may find themselves receiving more phishing emails.’
These phishing emails will point you to seemingly legitimate websites, which then lure you into inputting personal information – such as bank details. This information can then be used to defraud you.
It’s not just computers, laptops and tablets that are at risk. Mike Andrews told us that mobile phones are affected too: ‘More and more of us are reading emails on the go on our mobile phones. Scammers take advantage of this by tricking us into opening attachments or clicking on links, especially when they can distract us with events like the recent referendum turmoil.’
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How you can protect yourself from Brexit email scams
Use our three top tips to protect yourself from email scams:
- Be aware that Brexit email scams are prevalent at the moment
- Exercise caution – do not open attachments or click on links from unknown senders
- Delete emails straight away if the source or message is at all suspicious. Emails can be spoofed, so they may look as though they came from a friend but are actually from a scammer. So it doesn’t hurt to double-check with the sender whether they actually sent the email.
With fraud now at record levels, we’re calling on the government to safeguard us from scams. You can help, too – sign our Safeguard us from scams petition.