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Whether you own a digital business or are just a consumer, it is essential to be on your guard against cybercrime.

In Britain, 2020 saw a record rise in IT scams, driven largely by the fact that more of us are at home on our computers than ever before.

Tens of thousands of Britons lost hundreds of millions of pounds as a result of increasingly sophisticated online scams, underscoring the importance of vigilance now more so than ever.

In order to ensure that you do not fall prey to a vicious cyberattack, you need to know what to look out for.

With that in mind, here are the top five dangerous IT scams you need to be aware of in 2021.

1. Hermexx Scam
This is a particularly insidious form of malvertisement scam that was uncovered by the ad security firm GeoEdge last year. With the huge rise in the popularity of bitcoin, savvy IT scammers have been taking advantage to target specific online users. The scam uses cloaking technology to log the details of certain users via the ads that they click on, before actively pushing them towards a cryptocurrency scam.

2. Government Grant Scam
This is a new IT scam that has targeted tens of thousands of people in the UK in recent months. The scam involves bombarding the victim with emails and push notifications that look identical to the messages you would receive from the UK Government. The messages tell victims that they are eligible for a government support grant and that all they need to do is add their banking details to a fake government website. The real UK government will never, ever send a message like this, so don’t fall for it.

3. Council Tax Reduction Email
This is another UK IT scam that involves cybercriminals cloaking themselves as government officials. Again, this scam uses WhatsApp messages and emails to inform victims that they have qualified for a “council tax reduction” and need to verify their personal details by clicking on a link. The link is malware and should not be clicked. Again, a local council will never send you a message like this.

4. Clone Firm Scams
These highly sophisticated scams are a testament to the increased funding and resources that many cybercriminals have. Put simply, a criminal group will clone a legitimate business website, creating a duplicate that looks exactly like the original. By doing this, they can trick people into “purchasing” goods from their fake site, pocketing the money. Always double-check every detail on a site, particularly the URL, to ensure that you are in the right place.

5. Bank Transfer Scams
This one is a little bit less sophisticated but still manages to fool people. Scammers will create push notifications that strongly resemble notifications sent by your banking app (the notifications themselves often come from a dodgy app that you might have unwittingly downloaded). The notification will tell you that, due to an unspecified crisis, you need to move your money out of your current account and into a more secure account. Remember, no bank will ever ask you to transfer your money to another account, especially not via a push notification.

By simply being aware of these common UK IT scams, you will greatly reduce your chances of falling victim to one. The more people who are aware of these scams, the lower the cost of cybercrime.

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