Posts tagged Rip Off Britain
Whether it’s fake news, fake likes or fake adverts, Facebook hasn’t been far from the top of the news agenda over the last few months.
On Monday’s Rip Off Britain: Live (BBC1, 9.15am) I addressed the fake Facebook adverts issue which has recently seen money-saving expert Martin Lewis sue the social network for damages after his face appeared in fake adverts for scam financial products.
The fake Facebook adverts I see generally fall into three main categories:
Fake Celebrity Endorsements
Advertisers have long worked with trusted names to grow reach and sales – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, as Martin Lewis and others have found, it’s a doddle for rogue advertisers to mock up fake celebrity endorsements, fake news reports – even entire fake websites – in an attempt to ensnare unwitting readers into their sales funnel.
MY ADVICE: Don’t trust an advert just because it features a trusted face, or appears to be a news story from a reputable news site, do your own research first.
Free Trial Offers
Invited to sign up for a free trial of smart pills, skin cream, eye serum or anti-wrinkle rub? Be very, very wary – it’s not often there’s a free lunch on the Internet. Or a free miracle anti-ageing or weight-loss cure.
Buried away in the T&Cs may be clauses which mean – one way or another – you’ll end up forking out a fortune, often as a subscription. And working out how to cancel it or get a refund can prove a real headache.
Good trial offers do exist online, but they’re often for digital services – video and music streaming services, for example.
MY ADVICE: Be suspicious of free trials of physical products on social media from companies you’ve never heard of, and give the terms and conditions every possible scrutiny, keeping a digital copy to refer back to.
This is where the beautifully presented goods you see in the advert bear little resemblance to what you eventually get in the post, and it’s something we’ve covered many times before on Rip Off Britain.
Often the advertisers rely on people giving up hope at this point, not bothering with the inevitable hassle of returning an item. And the firms that walk this tightrope certainly don’t make it easy for those that can be bothered.
MY ADVICE: Always do your own research, away from the social network, before you press ‘buy’; research the company advertising the goods, see where they’re actually based and what other people say about their experiences of buying from them.
More Tips To Spot Fake Ads
- Be suspicious if the advert you click on passes you from one website/company name to another; always make sure you know who you’re dealing with and check each company carefully if you haven’t heard of them before (and watch out for look-alike company names)
- Look at the web address of the page and check it matches the title of the site – don’t trust a news story purporting to be from a well-known news source (BBC News, for example) but with an unfamiliar web address (http://buythisno-w.com/bbc-news-live-debt-free/ for example).
- Look for an address and phone number – and if it’s a free/cheap number then call it to get a feel for their customer service; if not, then go elsewhere
- Beware of pressure tactics: “stock running low”, “offer ends in 19 minutes”, “8 others are also looking at this product” are all there solely to speed you into buying. Make up your own mind, on your own terms and in your own time
- Get rich quick schemes? Bitcoin, binary trading etc? I advise you to steer well clear – schemes like these rarely help anybody get rich except the people selling them
BBC Rip Off Britain: Live airs every day on BBC1 and 9.15am Monday 25th -29th June 2018 – catch up on iPlayer here.
Rip Off Britain is back with a new series on BBC1 this week.
In one of this season’s films, I talk about how internet-connected doorbells are now being used help to catch crooks.
Think of a connected doorbell as a video intercom – similar to those already popular in flats and offices – that connects your front door to your phone. Not only do they provide peace of mind when your doorbell – or perhaps that of an elderly relative – rings, these smart devices can also record video of who is at the door. Needless to say, they have already been used to help identify criminals.
In another item for the show this series, I take Julia Somerville to a Bitcoin cashpoint to explain what cryptocurrency is and how it works – and how some viewers may have lost substantial sums of more traditional cash to so-called Bitcoin scammers.
This year for the show we’ve also been making some quick advice films for Facebook – here’s me talking about why some viewers’ second-hand smartphone have suddenly stopped working days or weeks after they’ve bought them:
Rip Off Britain airs on BBC1 at 9.15am from Monday 13th June 2018, available on catch-up on BBC iPlayer.
The new series of Rip Off Britain – series nine! – began on BBC1 this month and once I am on-hand as its resident technology expert.
Earlier this week, I spoke with Angela about how high-tech car criminals are able to hack their way past current keyless security systems. I also shared a few tips that may help concerned viewers prevent their cars being stolen. Here’s a quick taster:
Car crime has largely moved on from the coat hanger and hot-wire days of old, with crime rates decreasing by 80 percent since 1993 according to the Office for National Statistics. However, a new wave of tech-savvy car criminals is now making easy work of making off with many makes of car.
I’ve been following the high-tech car crime trend closely, trying to understand the ways in which criminals are able to bypass or subvert car keyless security systems – whether through signal amplification, wireless jamming or keyless code capture. Criminals often steal to order, targeting high-value vehicles that are driven to so-called ‘chop-shops’ and sold on for parts.
Next week I travel to Glasgow for BBC Rip Off Britain Live. I find the live shows particularly enjoyable because we are able to be responsive to news stories as they break. As such, I can’t say yet exactly which stories I’ll be covering, but I believe we’ll be discussing how the Internet of Things has made our homes vulnerable to hackers.
Among the topics I cover in this series of Rip Off Britain: Live on BBC1 is speech recognition. In Tuesday’s show I went to Liverpool to investigate how viewers are talking to their tech to help make their everyday lives easier.
According to researchers at Stanford University we can talk three times faster – and with 20% more accuracy – than we can type or swipe on a mobile phone.
Proof that it’s good to talk, right?
It was no surprise, however, to find that many I spoke with were initially sceptical about the effectiveness of speech recognition. But I had a hunch that their lack of confidence was misplaced, with judgements on poor comprehension based on older generations of the technology.
Our day of filming in and around Liverpool proved my point: I found that Apple’s intelligent personal assistant Siri was better than even I was at comprehending commands, irrespective of accent or background noise.
Speech recognition technology – and Siri is far from the only or even the best example at present – has now reached a level of useful maturity. What is needed next to help more to benefit from it is further accessibility and behavioural change.
In the main Rip Off Britain series in September I also took a look at how voice biometrics are being used by major service providers as an authentication factor to make logins to our online accounts safer, simpler and more secure.
Check out further clips from this series of Rip Off Britain here on the BBC website.
The new series of Rip Off Britain begins this Monday on BBC1 resuming its mission to expose shams, scams and poor customer service.
In this series I look at how failures in Vodafone’s billing systems and customer services have left subscribers out of pocket and with costly black marks on their credit history; also I investigate how freely available information might be used by identity thieves to build up detailed profiles of their victims.
One item that I hope to be covering more of is the future of passwords.
Like a stuck record, over the last four or so seasons on Rip Off Britain I’ve made the point again and again about the importance of good password hygiene to minimise the risk of hacks.
But recent developments in voice biometrics technology might be part of a move to make our live online much safer. In fact, customers of some major UK banks and service providers are already using just their voices to securely log-in to their online accounts.
The software claims to analyse around one hundred different behavioural and physical characteristics of our voices (for example accent or length of vocal folds) and is being used by customers of TalkTalk and HSBC among others. Its developer, Nuance, says the technology is so sophisticated that it can even distinguish between identical twins.
We took a special version of the voice recognition app to the BBC pop up shop at the Trafford Centre in Manchester to discover whether shoppers there felt secure using their voice as their password.
Rip Off Britain airs on BBC1 Monday to Friday from 12th September at 9.15am.
Of all the high-profile hacks and leaks of 2015 the TalkTalk Data Breach in October may prove to be one of the most significant yet, potentially impacting all four million of its UK customers.
While details of the breach are still emerging the leaked data appears to include unencrypted names, addresses, email addresses, bank account/credit card information, customer account numbers and more.
The ‘significant and sustained’ cyberattack, likely using a DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack as a smokescreen for their chosen method of entry and extraction, shows the hallmarks of highly-organised cybercrime.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time that the UK telco’s customers have had their personal details sneaked out of the back door. Data leaks in November 2014 and August 2015 exposed information that has been used to successfully defraud customers of thousands of pounds with phishing and vishing attacks.
- Treat incoming telephone calls purporting to be from a service provider – TalkTalk or otherwise – as potentially toxic. Regardless of any account number or information quoted, or the telephone number called from (Call Line IDs are easy to spoof), in my opinion phishing and vishing fraud is now so common that incoming calls are impossible to trust. A reputable/genuine caller will quite understand any concerns and give you an option to call back on a verified number found on your (for example) bank statement or the firm’s main website (not a link they send). However, make sure you call back from another number (maybe a mobile if you have one – but check call charges) or ensure your landline has been cleared first (wait 5 minutes or call a friend first).
- Check your bank statements, credit card bills and any online payment service accounts (eg Paypal). If there are any transactions you don’t recognise, no matter how small, query them. And then keep checking them – this is good practice anyway.
- Check and change your passwords, particularly if you use the same password as your TalkTalk account across any other accounts? Email, social network, PayPal, auction sites etc?
TalkTalk has a dedicated page to keep those concerned updated with the latest news and advice on the data breach: http://help2.talktalk.co.uk/oct22incident
BBC Rip Off Britain LIVE returns for a second year to The One Show studios in Central London, and once again I will be on-hand to answer more viewers’ consumer technology questions. Last year I spoke about contactless payments and passwords – this year it’s online gaming.
In the first show of the week-long series I’m due to talk about how online gamers are increasingly being targeted by ‘bounty hunters’ eager to hijack their account to gain access to their games, achievements or even their credit card details (bear in mind that the show is live so anything could happen instead…!).
In a plot that quickly begins to sound like a video game in its own right, the fraudsters use a variety of tactics to trick high-value gamers into revealing their login details so that their gaming accounts and virtual identities can be stolen and sold on for real cash.
Earlier in the series Rip Off Britain spoke with two disgruntled gamers whose Sony Playstation accounts had apparently been hijacked, but other gaming platforms can be hot targets too. With over 4,500 games and 125 million gamers, PC gaming platform Steam is one of the largest gaming networks around and, inevitably, it is also a target for scammers.
Despite a well-publicised security flaw identified in July 2015 Steam generally has a sound reputation for security of its users’ data. However, this hasn’t stopped gamers from having their accounts compromised — in fact, the majority of fraud appears to be as a result of phishing and social engineering rather than any hacks of either Steam’s or its users’s systems.Posts like this on gamebanana go into some detail on the social engineering methods that scammers have successfully used to hijack accounts. It describes how scammers have used in-game instant messaging to pose as Steam administrators warning (ironically) that their account has been hacked and needs to be regenerated.
The post may be several years old, but sadly the same tactics are still in use. More recent scams may attempt to install malware onto your PC or into your browser, but they all involve convincing you to click a link or reveal your account information. Here’s another incredibly useful post that shows some scams in action, along with how to spot a Steam scam.
Steam Community: Avoiding Common Scams:
Vigilance, it seems, is the best defence, along with basic awareness of the tactics employed by the scammers.
But if you find yourself a victim of Steam account jacking then help is at hand – in fact, Steam has a special form to help recover stolen and hijacked accounts:
Recovering a Stolen or Hijacked Steam Account:
However, Valve bosses do acknowledge that Steam’s current customer service is far from good enough, with support tickets seemingly going unanswered or ignored, but it is working hard to remedy it.
Valve Explains Why Steam Customer Service Is Still Terrible:
Questions will inevitably be asked whether Valve, the parent company behind Steam, is active enough in trying to prevent this kind of fraud. In response Steam is currently introducing a two-factor authentication mechanism, Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator, which in theory should reduce some fraud.
Rip Off Britain LIVE airs on BBC1 from 9.15 until 10am from Monday 19th to Friday 23rd October 2015.
A new series of Rip Off Britain begins on BBC1 today, Monday 14th September, from 9.15 to 10.00am.
The popular consumer affairs show starring Angela Rippon, Gloria Hunniford and Julia Somerville is now in its seventh series of helping viewers tackle rip offs and scams. I’m delighted to have been involved for the last four as a digital consumer champion across everything from cybersecurity and nuisance calls to mobile roaming and online safety.
For one film this season I took a detailed look at how safe we are when using the Public Wi-Fi hotspots increasingly found in coffee shops, airports and hotels. Even I was staggered at just how much information hackers can see on wireless networks with relatively little equipment or, frankly, expertise. This information can include unencrypted usernames, passwords and other sensitive details that can easily be used to execute identity fraud or phishing attacks.
This ‘digital eavesdropping’ might be the perfect crime, with coffee shop surfers quite unaware of a fraudster syphoning off valuable personal data on an adjacent table. The first they might realise something is amiss is when they get locked out of their social networking accounts or their email inexplicably starts spamming their address book.
During research for the show I uncovered some shocking security holes from well-known online and high-street retailers who really should know better. I also discovered how I wasn’t immune to sharing sensitive and valuable data by accident too.
Rip Off Britain airs every weekday on BBC1 for four weeks from Monday 14th September at 9.15am; see here for episode information and iPlayer links to watch on demand.