Scammers are increasingly relying on the Internet to achieve the results they want; to defraud you or to steal your identity.
The national fraud reporting centre, Action Fraud is where any online frauds should be reported. Their website has an online reporting form or you can call 0300 123 2040.
There are lots of scams circulating using email and social networks. They will ask for your personal details, bank or credit card numbers or online logins and passwords.
Be alert to online scams and don't click on links that you are not sure about. Never give people personal information or credit card details unless you can confirm who they are.
- Never open emails that look odd and don’t click on links that you are not sure of
- Know who you are dealing with if you are providing any personal data. Note that banks will never ask for your account numbers or pin details
- Be suspicious if anyone asks you for personal or financial information
- Often scams will try to look like genuine accounts
- Make sure you don’t provide information online or through social networks that could help people to steal your identity
- Make sure you are using a secure website for any financial transactions, look for a padlock symbol or 'https' in the address bar to denote a secure site
- Ensure you have security software that will block spam or phishing emails. Switch your computer's firewall on and keep the anti-virus software up-to-date
5 ways to spot a cyber scam
Here are 5 ways that you can clearly identify an online or cyber scam.
A message from a retailer
Scammers often send out emails pretending to be from well-known and trusted retailers. With a trained eye, these can be spotted a mile away. Things to look out for are:
- The unrecognised email address it is sent from
- A warning from your email provider that the message is spam
- The fact you've never previously shopped there
A text message from an unrecognised number
Scammers are now targeting smart phone users and are sending out bogus messages straight to their phones. If you receive one of these messages never click a link as it could lead to malware that will infect your device with the intention of using your personal details.
Seems too good to be true...
You guessed it. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Much like the first point, scammers often send these "too good to be true..." emails to people from what appears on the surface to be well known brands. So use the tips in the first point to identify them.
Fraudsters are up against increasingly sophisticated spam filters that prevent them from getting to your inbox. To get around this, they will often use numbers instead of letters and seemingly random spelling mistakes to sneak under the radar. Spotting these patterns will help you identify the scammers that get through.
Also worth noting here that your bank will never ask you for your account details online. So if you get an email supposedly from your bank asking for your details, you can be 100% sure it is a fraudster.
Warning from your email provider
This one may seem obvious but, as mentioned above, most major email providers have a highly sophisticated spam filter that should divert the vast majority of scam emails from your inbox. If you see a message from your service provider warning that the message may be spam, avoid it.