A LARGS business owner is warning residents to remain vigilant after a rise in online scams in recent months.

We recently told how a local woman was targeted by a criminal pretending to be one of her children in a bid to get her to part with her bank details.

Gary Ennis, who runs NS Design and regularly hosts webinars about staying safe online, says scams are becoming sophisticated and social media is being used to make them seem more realistic.

He explained: “Scams these days are becoming more difficult to spot and moving beyond just simple email phishing.

“The rise of social media scams is something everyone needs to be aware of. These can include creating fake accounts, making friend requests or sending direct messages with links.

“They are very clever spoofs.

“They’re getting more realistic, more sophisticated, and are easier to be taken in by so people really need to be on alert.”

Gary believes the rise in online scams has been fuelled by the pandemic, with people isolated or working from home.

He said: “We have all seen the rise of Covid related scams about government support, vaccines and travel.

“It’s not just individuals and families being targeted, it’s businesses too.

“The criminals are aware that staff who are normally in an office behind company firewalls and with whole IT departments to support them are now at home with less security.

“It’s much easier now for the hackers to gain access to company systems."

Gary is urging residents to remain cautious.

He explained: “I hate to say this but the most important thing is to be sceptical and assume that every email, text message or direct message is a scam until you’re 100 per cent sure otherwise.

“Don’t rely on your anti-virus software or mobile phone company to keep you safe, and be very wary of clicking on any links until you’ve checked the source.

“Look out for any tell-tale signs that it might not be legit like not using your real name, a pixelated logo, or often less than perfect English spelling and grammar.

“Even if it does look legitimate, you have nothing to lose by taking extra precautions like phoning your bank to check or asking a customer on the phone if they are indeed changing their details.”

“Other simple measures we should all be taking include having anti-virus software, minimising the apps we install on our mobile phones, and being a little more cautious on social media.”