Voucher Scam Warning for Social Media Users

by Chris Fairbairn

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Scottish Business Resilience CentreThe business resilience delivery arm of Police Scotland and the Scottish Government is warning shoppers to be on high alert following a spate of fraudulent supermarket vouchers appearing on Facebook.

Following Aldi’s own warning that vouchers offering 40% off at the supermarket are false, the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) has suggested that shoppers who register are exposing themselves to the risk of damaging identity theft by handing over sensitive personal information to criminals.

With the rise of personal information being cultivated by criminal gangs and sold via the Dark Web (an intricate system of private untraceable web servers often used by hacker groups) it is important to be vigilant at all times when using devices that may store any personal information.

Director of the SBRC, Mandy Haeburn-Little, said: “The public needs to be on guard against vouchers appearing on their social media newsfeeds claiming to offer incredible savings.

“Criminals are constantly devising more complex and devious methods to unlawfully take your information and your savings – which is why fraudulent offers can often appear official, however if an offer looks too good to be true, it more than likely is.

“Be cautious when online, at a time when savings are so often stretched it is especially important that we don’t fall victim and instead take what measures we can to limit risk.”

It is important to keep your personal and financial information safe when browsing social media. To keep your details safe you need to look out for four things:-

• ‘https://’ at the start of the address bar or a padlock icon. The ‘S’ indicates that it is a secure server and that your information will be safe. Facebook uses this.
• ‘Green Address Bar’ another indicator that some secure websites use is to turn the address bar green.
• Users should also check the page that is sharing any vouchers. Does it look genuine? Is it posting other content from that supermarket i.e Christmas recipes or discounts? If not it may not be the real deal.
• Look out for the blue tick – Facebook and Twitter have a blue tick scheme for verified accounts. This is a handy way to verify that a page is the real deal.

Experts also warn never to use the same password for social media as you do for online banking. Social media passwords are more open to manipulation and could lead to criminals gaining access to other private information held by users.

The recently launched Cyber Resilience Strategy for Scotland – a Programme for Government commitment – will map out how individuals and businesses can increase their online resilience, enabling Scotland to become a global leader in cyber resilience.

The Scottish Business Resilience Centre is to play a key role in the strategy, as the business resilience delivery arm for Police Scotland and the Scottish Government, it will be crucial in linking private and public sector as all involved tackle a common cyber threat.

The strategy, which was designed following a public consultation, will focus on four strategic themes of leadership and will be rooted in partnership working; awareness raising and communication; education, skills and professional development; and research and innovation, The strategy also set out a series of high level actions that will now be developed in conjunction with key partners, into a set of action plans moving forward.

A list of measurable objectives for the strategy has been outlined, which will help both the Scottish Government and its partners to assess successes and react to concerns.

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Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

Chris Fairbairn

Chris Fairbairn is a PR account manager with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood Partnership. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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