Watch out for phishing scams, says Charity Commission

The Charity Commission has this week alerted charities to the growing threat of cybercrime – amid news that the number of reported ‘phishing’ scams has rocketed.

Phishing scams – emails disguised to look as though they have come from a trusted source – are reported to Action Fraud around 8,000 times each month, it said.

They are designed to trick people into handing over sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, or credit card details.

Charities are particularly at risk – as they often hold a huge amount of data on donors.

“This alert is being issued because of increasing reports of phishing scams. We are urging charities to be vigilant and protect themselves from harm,” said the Commission.

What you should do to prevent a cyber attack

  • Make sure charity software has up-to-date virus protection (though it will not always prevent you from becoming infected).
  • Don’t click on links or open any attachments you receive in unsolicited emails or SMS messages. Fraudsters can ‘spoof’ an email address to make it look like it’s from a trusted source. If you’re unsure, check the email header to identify the true source of communication. Information on how to find email headers is available on the MX Toolbox website.
  • Always install software updates as soon as they become available, they will often include fixes for critical security vulnerabilities.
  • If your current software does not offer an ‘anti-spyware’ function, consider installing software which does, it can detect key loggers.
  • Make regular backups of your important files to an external hard drive, memory stick or online storage provider. But, it’s important that the device you back up to is not left connected to your computer, as a malware infection could spread to that too.
  • If you suspect your bank details have been accessed, you should contact your bank immediately.