Your Mobile phone - Cybercrime and SMISHING
Smishing -- using smart phone texts to phish for victims' confidential information -- is soaring, and it's more dangerous than email phishing.

Phishing, the scam that involves tricking people into giving away confidential information, is surging via text messaging, posing a greater than ever risk of identity theft.

The reason? People trust text messages more than they do email, so they're more likely to fall for the scam.

This type of phishing, better known as "smishing," has been around for years but because consumers have wised-up to email tricks and, in fact, are using email less and less for simple messages, scammers have switched their focus to SMS texts to target their victims.

The text usually contains a link that downloads malware, which steals as much data as it can find. And therein lies the threat:

Your smartphone knows a lot more about you than your PC, so an installed piece of malware might steal the phone numbers in your contact list and spread the virus in hopes to exponentially multiply. Even important bits of personal data, like banking credentials or your tracking location, can be at risk.

Scammers are also using texts to pose as tax authorities, not just in the US but also in the UK and Canada. The tactic creates a false sense of realism because many people don't realize that text messages can be a threat. They say that the user is due a tax refund or needs to provide more information," she explains. Basically, they try to get users' information, and that can be used for stealing their money.

Research suggests as many as one in three smartphone users had been targeted by a smishing attempt in just six months last year, although the actual number is likely to be higher since most people don't report scam attempts.

What to Do
The best thing you can do to avoid falling victim is to never click on a link inside a text message.

Certainly, you should never respond to a request for a password or other confidential information. Instead, visit the real website of the organization that seems to be asking and check if it's a genuine request.

You should also use extreme caution even if the message asks you to send the word "Stop" to stop receiving messages, as many do, unless you're 100% sure that it's genuine.

Sending a "Stop" message may not land you in immediate trouble but it signals to a phishing scammer that there's a bite on the line.

In fact, for the same reason, you should never reply to text messages from someone you don't know. It simply opens the door for an onslaught of spam.

Block the sender if you can. But otherwise, just delete the message.

And don't share your cell phone number on social media.

In addition, it's wise to install an anti-malware app on your phone.

To learn more about smishing, and cybercrime prevention see

For further advice or if you believe that you have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime contact

Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or
Based on an article from:

Car Key Burglaries
In some circumstances burglars are purposely breaking into houses while the occupants are asleep with the sole intention of finding your car keys and stealing your car and any other small portable items they find on the way out.

Before you turn in for the night check that all doors, ground floor windows and easily accessible windows are closed and locked. PVCu doors – don’t forget that the door is not fully locked until you have lifted the inside handle, turned the key or thumb-turn, and remember to remove the key and place out of sight but readily available in case of fire. When replacing a Europrofile lock cylinder ensure that you get a TS007 three star anti-snap, anti-bump lock cylinder. If you have an intruder alarm and can do so, activate the downstairs zone when you go to bed. As a cost effective measure providing a very limited alert there are battery operated PIR sensor alarms that can be sited within the home perhaps near where keys are stored available from companies such as: and

To stop the burglar getting easy access to vulnerable windows and doors towards the rear or side of a property make sure that the boundaries are secure and that side and rear gates are closed and locked.

Ensure that you put your car keys somewhere safe and out of sight, when you return home. Put your car keys in a drawer (preferably one that is noisy to open) or some other secure place, but to avoid any confrontation don’t take the car keys to the bedroom with you.

With some car thefts involving key less entry systems thieves will use an amplifiers to boast the signal from the keys within the house even through brick walls to reach the car; this can be prevented by use of a “Faraday bag” such as .

Use of steering wheel, handbrake and pedal locks are a good visual deterrent to car thieves. Ensure that the product has third party accreditation, such as those on the website.

If you have cars of different values, park the higher value car in your garage. If you are unable to do this, consider parking the lower value car in front of the higher value car, as the thieves are more likely to target high value motor vehicles and will be deterred if they cannot easily drive such a car away from the property with ease.

With high value cars consider the fitting of a tracking system.  A  word of caution,  you get what you pay for, so  look for a system that uses RF frequency, 3 or 4G phone networks SIM as well as satellite connection GPS. There are even systems where you can “Geo-fence” the vehicle location so that if it moves beyond this the tracking system is activated.

For further information around Thatcham rated security products please see .

For further advice see:

Cold Calling Intruder Alarm Companies
Considering an intruder alarm? Think twice before you consider taking an offer up from a cold calling intruder alarm company. Quite often they will use high pressure sales tactics, make you an offer that appears to be too good to be true, somewhere may be concealed charges. If you are told the alarm goes through direct to the police then “alarm bells” should ring, the police do not monitor intruder alarms, they go to a commercial central monitoring station who contact police on a confirmed activation and if a certain criteria is fulfilled and resources are available then police attend.

 With any cold callers, stop give yourself time to think about what is being offered, do a little research before coming to a decision, speak to friends or family, don’t be rushed. Remember “if it appears too good to be true invariable it is” and “you get nothing for nothing”. If you need something done or purchased speak to neighbours and friends and take on a trader by personal recommendation, or Trading Standards “Buy with Confidence” scheme or call 0345 404 0506.

Gone are the days when an alarm was an indication you have something to steal, there are so many out there now, and it has been proven that having an intruder alarm is a strong deterrent to burglars. Self-install or installed system, wired or wireless, bells only or self-monitored or call centre monitored, there are pros, cons and financial implications to each. If you go with an installed system we recommend that you useNSI  or SSAIB accredited companies (some are also “Buy with Confidence” vetted for extra peace of mind), and get at least three quotes to compare like for like.

If you have any further queries re alarms or any other security issue have a look at the Essex Police webpage.

TV Licensing Scam
Action Fraud has received more than 5,000 reports about fake emails and texts purporting to be from TV Licensing. The messages contain links to genuine-looking websites that are designed to steal personal and financial information.

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

For more information about how to stay safe online, visit cyberaware

HM Revenue & Customs Scam
HM Revenue and Customs Alert

What you need to know
Action Fraud has experienced an increase in the reporting of malicious calls, voicemails, text messages or emails to members of the public purporting to be from HMRC.

The fraudsters state that as a result of their non-payment of tax or other duty, the victim is liable to prosecution or other legal proceedings such as repossession of belongings to settle the balance but can avoid this by arranging for payment to be made immediately by method such as bank transfer or by iTunes gift cards.

If the victim is hesitant or refuses to comply, the suspect makes a threat such as immediate arrest, bailiffs or in cases where the victim appears to be of overseas origin; deportation.

Often, the period for which the tax is allegedly due is distant enough to guarantee the victim will have little, if any, paperwork or ability to verify the claims. Once the money is paid the suspects sever all contact.

It is vital that the public exercise caution when receiving messages or telephone calls of this nature.

What you need to do
Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information. Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name and contact details), it doesn't mean they are genuine. Instead, contact the company directly using trusted methods such as a known email address or phone number.

Listen to your instincts. If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it. No genuine organisation will ask you to pay taxes, bills or fees using iTunes Gift Cards, or any other type of voucher.

Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision. Under no circumstances would a genuine bank or some other trusted organisation force you to make a financial transaction on the spot.

Report Phishing attempts. If you receive a call, text or email of this nature and have not lost money, report this as a phishing attempt to Action Fraud.