OFTEC and other industry bodies are warning engineers and sole traders to be extra vigilant after being alerted to a growing number of heating businesses that have been contacted by fraudsters.
Fake advertising, training centre scams and phishing emails with fake invoices are all being used by scammers, particularly fake advertising opportunities.
According to HPM magazine technicians are being sold advertising for a magazine on crime prevention or charities.
If the victim becomes suspicious and attempts to cancel the arrangement, they will often claim to have taped the phone call and threaten to use it to enforce the ‘verbal contract’.
Fraudsters are targeting businesses with fake calls, emails or texts. These are called phishing scams and are usually designed to obtain personal information or bank details, often impersonating public sector bodies like HMRC.
A tactic is to place a large order with the business, stablishing that payment must be made before work is undertaken so invoicing details are required upfront.
Another tactic is impersonating a bank or HMRC concerning money owed or a self-assessment tax return.
This is an increasingly popular ploy. The scammers pose as a supplier or use a familiar looking email address, attaching an invoice either looking for details or, more maliciously, download malware to your computer in an attempt to hack personal data.
Logic4training are sent dozens of fake invoices to our email every day. It is easy for us to recognise them now but would you be able to tell?
If you get sent a zip attachment from an email address that looks dodgy don’t open it, delete it straight away.
Training Centre Scams
We recently reported on training centre scams affecting people (including ex-servicemen) where people were being pressured into signing up for a £7000 course on their own doorstep.
We are still getting occasional calls and emails from people who have been targeted. Please read our article here to find out how to avoid being caught out by these scammers.
Figures from GetSafeOnline, the government-backed cyber security body, show that ‘phishing’ attacks rose by 21 per cent during 2015.
Furthermore, over half of all the attacks on businesses reported last year were made against small firms.
To help protect heating businesses from fraudulent activity, OFTEC has put together some top tips to avoid getting caught out:
- Always ask for written details before committing to anything.
- Always compare email addresses and other details to previous correspondence.
- If you are dealing with a public body representative you have not previously communicated with, don’t be afraid to ask for proof of identification.
- If a delivery address is different to usual, query why. There could be a simple explanation but it’s always best to check.
- Never open a suspicious email or click on a suspicious link. Web viruses don’t just ruin your computer, they can be used as a way to steal money. Free anti-virus software is widely available.
- Poor grammar or bad spelling can often be a tell-tale sign. Genuine companies will spend time proof reading correspondence.
- Be wary if you are asked to pay upfront for anything – play for time and do some online research to confirm whether the offer is genuine
- Numbers starting with 084, 087 or 09 are now premium rate so most reputable companies have stopped using them. However, they are used by scammers to trick people out of money.
- If you receive an offer that sounds too good to be true – it probably is.
If you notice a scam email please let us know on Twitter and we will make our followers aware of it.