Technology Tips: Fake news?
Fake news, scam calls, hijacked websites and phishing emails, all designed to fool you, but often for different reasons. The obvious reason is to try to trick you into handing over your money (or giving away the access to your money) however others want to fool you into believing their rhetoric in order to further their agenda or simply to boost their ego by spreading rumours.
Unfortunately any significant world event will end up being targeted and as you can imagine the pandemic is the current target. It can sometimes be difficult to tell what is real and what is fake. Here are some tips for spotting what is fake.
If someone calls you up out of the blue and claims to be from a reputable source such as BT, Microsoft, HMRC, the council or the police you should always check their authenticity. Call them back or go to your online account to verify their claims. For example, if BT call to say you have an issue tell them you will check on their website then go to www.BT.com and sign into your account to check.
These can be a little harder to spot. Recently, there has been a proliferation of fake sites trying to sell “cures” for the coronavirus or worse just set up to steal your details and money. Always be suspicious of webpages that pop up unexpectedly or web links in unsolicited emails. Check that the web address relates to the website you are looking for (for example if you are trying to get on to the BT site and the address appears as www.xccwr.cn/aps then it is clearly a fake). If it is a payment website, look for the padlock symbol in the address bar at the top of the screen. Do not simply trust it because it “looks” official.
Always be suspicious of an email that is a little out of the ordinary or that sounds too good to be true. They will not always be the obvious type where a foreign millionaire has left millions unclaimed and for a small fee you could get a portion. Some may claim that you have a COVID tax refund from HMRC or that a friend is stuck in lockdown abroad and needs help to get out. Always use another method to check confirm authenticity.
This can be subjective as one person’s news can be another’s Fake news. Social media is rife with fake posts, articles, videos “proving” some spurious theory. Just because your work colleague has reposted a message from their postman who knows the person who lives next door to a celebrity, it does not follow that it is true. Try to verify the story by visiting a reliable news site, go to a rumour debunking sites such as www.snopes.com or do a little research yourself.
I hope you are all staying healthy and safe.
© Martin Middleton – I.T.Aide