How to avoid online scams

Scammers will generally target the elderly and vulnerable, but there is a scam out there for all us.

Here are some examples of the types of online scams that are regularly reported to Citizens Advice and Action Fraud.

  • subscription traps or free trial scams - offers of free trials for beauty or health-related products, could lead to you entering a subscription; bank card details are requested in order to pay for the P&P for the 'free trial', although regular amounts will be taken from your account
  • job scams - may include taking money to write a CV which you don't receive or carry out security checks for you which do not materialise. Others may offer an expensive training programme or hold a job interview on a premium rate telephone number, which leaves the applicant with a large phone bill
  • ticket scams - tickets being advertised for an event that has sold out or the tickets haven't even gone on sale yet. Tickets may not be delivered or you are informed to meet someone at the venue, only to find they do not show. Always use reputable sellers
  • email 'phishing' scams - emails designed to look like they've been sent by a genuine organisation in an attempt to trick you into clicking on a link and providing your personal or financial information
  • copycat websites - websites claiming to be offering a government service (i.e. renewing a passport or applying for a driving licence) and charging excessive fees

Here are a few tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of an online scam:

  • contacted out of the blue - be suspicious!
  • notified you have won a prize - if you haven't entered a competition, you can't win it
  • ask yourself why is a stranger contacting you about an offer to good to miss?
  • you shouldn't have to pay anything up front to receive a prize or winnings
  • if in doubt about an email you've received, don't reply, just click delete
  • don't be rushed into a making a decision
  • never give your bank details to someone you've never met
  • walk away from job ads that ask for an up front payment
  • your bank will never email you asking to you to click on a link or download a form to complete
  • your bank will never email you asking you to confirm your PIN or online banking password
  • are you renewing a passport or driving licence? - don't rely on search engines to find the website, type the web address into the browser address bar or visit GOV.UK (link opens in new window)
  • tempted by a 'free trial' offering some pills helping you to lose weight or feel healthier - you may find you've entered a subscription trap and end up paying more than just the P&P originally requested
  • trust your gut feeling - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

How to report a scam

Please call 03454 04 05 06 if you spot a scam.

Silence is a scammer's best friend: if you spot it, report it.

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