Cédric Hatto / Stag © Reporters

Beware of spear phishing!

Fraudsters on the internet are becoming increasingly daring in their behaviour.  One of the new dangers is spear phishing. 

These fraudsters choose their victims carefully.  Often they are people who have just lost a loved one, more often than not unexpectedly.  They receive a call from somebody claiming to be from the bank and insisting that a number of bank affairs still need to be tidied up.  People are less wary under such conditions, will take a seat behind their computer and download apps as requested.  The danger is that they are being directed to fraudulent websites by opening up links: the result could be the loss of a lot of money.

The sudden, recent death can impact on your emotions and the alarm bells that are usually set off by suspicious emails or calls fail to sound.  At such times people are at their most vulnerable: losing cash by fraud just adds insult to injury.  A complaint to the police is always possible, but whether they will be able to track down the culprits is a different matter.

Miguel De Bruycker of the Belgian cyber security centre warns that phishing is on the increase: fraudsters send out emails fishing for bank details in the hope you will be duped and supply information that allows them to defraud you.  The banking federation Febelfin reported a surge in fraud cases at the beginning of the year: 1,300 cases involved phishing. targeted phishing or spear phishing is less common, though Belgian businesses have been targeted in this way.  In the event of a death the fraudsters are making use of the situation to get you to do things you usually would not.

Miguel De Bruycker urges people to ask for a phone number and return the call if anything seems fishy: “Beware of foreign telephone numbers.  Don't open suspicious emails, don't click on links or provide bank codes.  Banks will never make such requests via email."