Caithness Map :: Links to Site Map Paying too much for broadband? Move to PlusNet broadband and save£££s. Free setup now available - terms apply. PlusNet broadband.  

 

Don't let Scammers identify you through your mobile number warn Highland Trading Standards

10th July 2017

Trading Standards officers at The Highland Council have discovered a new scam threat to local consumers. A local man was cheated out of a substantial sum by a conman posing as a reputable property landlord who used the man's mobile number to find out personal information from his Facebook account.

David MacKenzie, Highland Council’s Trading Standards manager explains:

"We received an enquiry from a Highland student who had placed a ‘flat wanted’ advert in an online classified ads website. His advert had only his mobile number, no name or other identification details. He received a call from a man who seemed really plausible and who namechecked people and places the student knew. After allegedly “carrying out checks", the caller got back in touch and offered a room in a flat in return for a holding deposit”.

The student was keen to secure the flat and sent the deposit by bank transfer. Unfortunately there was no flat, it was a total scam.

David MacKenzie continued: “There was little we could do to help the consumer; a bank transfer is a bit like handing over cash and there is little chance of recovering the money. Plus the crime here is fraud rather than a Trading Standards matter so we passed the information to the Police.”

Trading Standards receive information every day about scams of all sorts and a major part of their role in tackling them is to pre-warn consumers to stop them being cheated in the first place. After the event is often too late.

David MacKenzie explained: “We examined the case to determine how the scammer knew so much about the student from just a telephone number and no name. It turned out that the information was gleaned from the student’s Facebook account; despite the fact that he thought his Facebook profile was set to not disclose his mobile number. There are two key settings on Facebook dealing with your mobile phone number; (1) Who can see your mobile number and (2) Who can look you up by your mobile. It seems most people understand the first setting but we suspect many people don’t realise the potential implications of anyone being able to find your identity from just your mobile number.”

So the lesson from this story is for consumers to make sure that their Facebook settings are what they want them to be.

David MacKenzie added:“There may be good security reasons to have your mobile linked to your social media account but that doesn’t mean you have to disclose it to anyone looking at your public profile or to allow people to find you using that number. Essentially what we are saying here is that if a scammer has only your mobile number but not your name and no other identifying information, they can still try and search Facebook to see if you’re listed. Some people might be comfortable with the idea that they can be traced using their mobile number but we think many consumers will not want that identifying information to be made available in this way. It can lead to them being scammed as happened in this case.

“We are advising consumers that if you don’t want people to be able to find your Facebook profile by using your mobile number then you will have to change the privacy setting on ‘Who can look me up’. For example, change that from the default setting of ‘Everyone’ to just your friends.”

Facebook have a help page on this topic at https://www.facebook.com/help/131297846947406 or via this shortcut www.tinyurl.com/whocanlookmeup

July is Scam Awareness Month (#ScamAware) and this year Citizens Advice Scotland and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is focusing on a number of key themes including:

Tackling under-reporting and stigma

This year’s campaign theme is ‘Play your part, act on scams’.

The campaign also focuses on how some scammer target specific age groups including in particular those aged 18-24. Highland Council Trading Standards see this message about mobile phone data and the potential pitfalls of sharing information on social media as being particularly important for young people who have grown up with these communication platforms.

More general online safety advice is available at #ScamAware and www.getsafeonline.org ”

 

Related Businesses

 

Related Articles

Watch out for fake job offers online
As part of Scam Awareness Month, Caithness Citizens Advice Bureau and Highland Council Trading Standards want to alert young job seekers about the potential pitfalls when applying for jobs or signing up to recruitment agencies online.   Glenys Brown, Trading Standards Officer, based in Inverness explains, "Unfortunately, nationally, there has been a sharp rise in the number of online job hunting scams and the age group most likely to be targeted with fake job offers are young adults aged between 18 to 24 years".  
20/7/2017
Your Views Wanted On Draft Local Housing StrategyThumbnail for article : Your Views Wanted On Draft Local Housing Strategy
The Highland Council is looking for your views on our draft Local Housing Strategy.   The strategy sets out our aims for housing over the next 5 years and what we will do to.  
20/7/2017
Council confirms Corran Ferry is back up and runningThumbnail for article : Council confirms Corran Ferry is back up and running
Council confirms Corran Ferry is back up and running.   The Highland Council is pleased to report that at 12.30pm today (Thursday 20 July 2017) the Corran Ferry fully resumed its foot passenger and car service.  
14/7/2017
More Centralisation As Council Leader Calls For Transparency On HMRC Move To Edinburgh
Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson is calling for transparency on the UK Government's announcement this week that Council Leader calls for transparency on HMRC move to Edinburgh Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson is calling for transparency on the UK Government's announcement this week that 2,900 HMRC civil servants will be relocated to a new hub in Edinburgh city centre by 2020.   Councillor Davidson said: "I am very concerned that Inverness is cited in news coverage of the UK Government's intention to move HMRC staff in regional offices to Edinburgh.  
13/7/2017
Highland Council Step Challenge WinnersThumbnail for article : Highland Council Step Challenge Winners
Teams from The Highland Council have been walking back to happiness and feeling the benefits of more active lifestyles following completion of the summer Step Count Challenge, run by Paths for All.  The 8 week challenge, which attracted 968 teams of 5 from across Scotland started in May and finished on 25 June 2017.  
13/7/2017
Free City Centre Wifi Is A Big Hit For Inverness And The Highland CouncilThumbnail for article : Free City Centre Wifi Is A Big Hit For Inverness And The Highland Council
Inverness, the largest city in the Scottish Highlands, has seen over 17,000 people access its free city centre WiFi in just 6 months following a collaboration between The Highland Council, Purple and Rapier Systems.   The Highland Council sought a WiFi solution that would allow them to identify who visits the city and gain a way of effectively communicating with people.  
10/7/2017
National concerns prompt Highland checks on UV tanning equipment in Highland
The Highland Council, one of several local authorities in Scotland which license UV tanning salons, will be conducting an audit on all licensed premises in Highland to verify compliance with EU safety standards regarding the output of ultra violet (UV) radiation.   Environmental Health Officers have become increasingly aware of concerns nationally whereby the UV bulb strength in many cases have been found to exceed the standard for such equipment.  
6/7/2017
No change? Just ‘RingGo' with Highland Council parkingThumbnail for article : No change? Just ‘RingGo' with Highland Council parking
Motorists using Highland Council car parking machines will no longer have to search for change with the introduction of ‘RingGo' phone parking payments across the region.   RingGo is a quick, easy to use mobile phone service, which lets motorists pay for their parking with a credit or debit card, rather than using cash at a machine.  
5/7/2017
Stronger Penalties For People Sharing Intimate Images
Prosecuting people who share or threaten to share intimate images without consent will be easier under a new law which comes into force this month.   From 3 July 2017, those convicted the offence could face up to five years in prison under the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016.  
5/7/2017
Council to form Cross-Party Working group for Inverness Schools
Members of The Highland Council have agreed to form a short life Cross-Party Working group for Inverness Schools.  The decision to create the working group was made at Highland Council's meeting on 29 June.  

[Printer Friendly Version]