The recent Queens Speech announced the governments new Online Safety Bill designed to protect users online, particularly focused on keeping children safe.
The Queen said: “My government will lead the way in ensuring internet safety for all, especially for children whilst harnessing the benefits of a free, open and secure internet.”
The legislation has been two years in the making and covers a range of content including instances where children might fall victim including grooming, hate speech and posts relating to suicide and eating disorders. The bill also includes provisions to tackle online scams such as the increasingly emerging romance fraud and fake investment opportunities.
Martin Wilson, Head of Remote Payments at Dojo, said: “Scammers are getting more creative with their deceit. With the rise in e-commerce accelerated by the global pandemic, seasoned fraudsters are seizing the opportunity to exploit the vulnerable and less-tech savvy. For the many people adopting new technologies such as online banking and shopping for the first time during COVID-19, these frauds are incredibly convincing and traumatic.
“Over the last month, SMS and email phishing scams have risen by a large amount with recent Google search volumes for online scams increasing by up to 633% with scammers asking potential victims to complete an immediate action to prevent fines or to receive packages.
“It is clear that online platforms need support from the government to help them prevent fraudulent and fake content on their sites so that their users are better protected. Now as the Online Safety Bill is being drafted it would be practical to implement the inclusion of scam fraud.”
While some are pleased with the bill’s announcement, as scamming activity has seen a significant increase, there are some people that are concerned that plans will lead to censorship and concerns over freedom of speech, as well as others believing that the bill does not go far enough as it contains no plans to protect people from scam and fraudulent ads.
Martin Lewis, founder of Moneysavingexpert.com, said: “The government has stumbled at the first fence by not including scams in the Online Safety Bill.
“We live in a world where the policing of scams is dangerously underfunded, leaving criminals to get away with fraud with impunity. This was a chance to at least deny them the ‘oxygen of publicity’ by making big tech responsible for the scammers’ adverts it is paid to publish.
“By not doing so the government has failed to protect millions, in the midst of a pandemic, from one of the most damaging online harms to their financial and mental health.”
How to spot a phishing email
Dojo has outlined five top tips for people receiving fake phishing SMS and emails:
1. Check the sender’s email address – Often scammers will use a suspicious email address that includes words that don’t relate to the company they impersonate or lots of numbers.
2. Check for poor spelling and grammar, or mistakes to the company’s name – Although some fraudulent emails and SMS are highly sophisticated, many of them can be poorly worded and there are some tell-tale signs they’re not legitimate.
3. Don’t rush to action their demands – Whether it’s clicking a suspicious link or providing your personal data, you should take some time to review the SMS and email, and research it’s legitimacy before taking any actions.
4. Never send sensitive data via emails, or online links from emails or SMS – If you do suspect you’ve been sent a phishing email, do not click on it and try not to open the email at all – especially if you’re using your work email. Scammers often leave malicious links within the email that once clicked allow them to enter your computer’s system.
5. Contact the company implicated – Whether you’re unsure, or you’re totally convinced that you’ve received a scam SMS or email pretending to be a company, reach out to that company to inform them and see further information. They will be able to let you know within an instant if the communication you received was legitimate.