How to avoid phone and email scams

06 February 2020

Technology

by Lewis Pitcher

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There is an old adage that is so true about modern technology: ‘no risk, no reward’. As we become all the more connected to technology and more and more of our lives get easier thanks to either the internet or some kind of device, the more we open ourselves up to risk from people using that against us. Scammer and fraudsters are some of those people, using a seemingly advanced knowledge of technology or just those gaps in peoples’ knowledge of the digital world to attack and take from all of us.

As a company leading the way in many areas of communication and networking tech, we are all too aware of the threat of scammers and at the same time, unfortunately, the way that many scammers can operate by using our name to seem authentic. We here at GO want our customers to have the knowledge to fight against some of the biggest and most dangerous scams out there, linked to GO’s name or not, by using a few simple tricks and rules to avoid the worst.

 

Fraud Calls from ‘GO’

There are many kinds of calls you can get from scammers claiming to be from GO and they may use many different tricks to get either money, account details or just personal info  from you. A common one is claiming that you’re due a refund from an overpayment which requires you to give over your bank account login details to make a transfer. This is probably the easiest one to spot: GO will never ask you for any PIN numbers or banking login details, and will never ask for card payment details over a phone call or even an email. GO will also never ask you to send any money via a money transfer site of any kind. This is true of all reputable major companies, and the information above is protected by law.

Another very serious one to watch out for is anyone claiming that they need you to install a certain piece of software, or give them remote access to your computer, because they claim that you have a virus, or a hacker, or something else nasty in your system. Software like TeamViewer is often used for this but in reality GO, or any other major telecom company, would never ask you to install any extra software on your computer for any of these reasons. Accepting this could result in your personal info being stolen and/or, even worse, your files being locked away and ransomed back to you.

If you ever receive a call such as this, hang up as soon as you are able and call the official GO contact number to check if the information you heard was genuine. Also make sure to check the number you’re being called from: if it’s not a local number, it’s definitely not from GO, although be aware that more advanced scams can find ways to use local numbers or even appear as GO on the surface.

 

Wangiri scams

Wangiri scams basically involve someone calling, usually from an international number, for a very short time to make someone call the number back. That number would be linked to an extremely expensive premium line which could cost you hundreds of Euros before you have chance to even hang up. These calls are very easy to spot when you know what warning signs to look for:

  • The calls are very short, only for a few rings sometimes.
  • The calls can happen at unusual times of the day.
  • The calls come from a number with a very unusual country code or often 9 or more digits. This could be from countries located anywhere in the world.

If you get these calls, it is best not to interact with them in any way, even to respond with a ‘Busy’ tone. If you’re not sure where a call originates from, a full list of country codes can be found here: https://www.go.com.mt/calling-abroad. As mentioned above, some scams will manage to use like local numbers starting with ‘079’ however GO will never use anything but a local number. Also remember that this is not the full list of tricks scammers will use; always stay alert for anything that seems unusual about an incoming call.

 

Phishing Scams

A phishing scam is essentially an attempt, usually by email or some other messaging service, to get you to give up important information by pretending to be some authority. This could be a company like GO or even huge international companies like Apple or Facebook. There are a few different ways this could appear:

  • You’ve won a prize and now need to give details to receive it
  • Your bank account has been compromised somehow
  • Your social media has been hacked
  • You have unpaid bills and the service will be cut off

There are more variations but these are some of the most common. Some specific ones include companies like Amazon or Alibaba claiming that something you never ordered has been shipped, and to click a button if it looks suspicious. Thankfully, in the majority of cases these are also easy to spot. The first thing to check is the quality of the language: scam emails are often full of spelling and grammar errors, especially those in English. Any reputable major company checks their communications carefully so if you see some very poor English, it probably isn’t real.

One really useful trick for this is to check the sending email address. For instance, a legitimate email from GO will always come from an address ending in @go.com.mt. If, however, the email comes from an address ending in @go.akf.mt.z or something like it, it is certainly fake. This is true of all major companies, and while some scammers can get close to a real-looking address, it’ll never be exactly right.

Remember, if you can follow a few golden rules, you can minimise your risk significantly.  Never give out any personal details to an unknown person, especially related to your bank accounts or credit cards, and if an offer looks too good to be true, or you win a prize in a contest you never entered, treat it with complete suspicion. Most of all, learn as much as you can on things like country codes, phishing tricks and how the companies you deal with operate, as the more information you know, the easier it will be to catch a scam before it gets started.