Scams: how to spot and beat them

Online scams

Examples of the more commonly reported online scams include:

  • “email phishing scams” – an email designed to look like it has been sent by a genuine organisation in an attempt to trick you into clicking on a link to confirm an unknown order from a retailer or to update your details with an organisation
  • “dating / romance scams” – met the partner of your dreams online – but, if they start asking for money, are they really who they say they are?
  • “copycat website scams” – looking to renew your passport or apply for a driving licence – make sure you are visiting the correct website and don’t trust the first result produced by a search engine
  • “free trial offer subscription traps” – have you seen an advert on social media or online offering for a free trial of health-related products, all you need to do is provide your bank card details to pay for P&P – you may be entering into a subscription trap and quickly find you are regularly receiving further products with money being debited from your bank account

How to avoid falling victim to online scams

  • if you are contacted out of the blue - be suspicious
  • check a sender’s email address, if it doesn’t look right and you have any suspicions, don't reply, just click delete
  • spelling mistakes and poor grammar are a good indication something may not be what it seems
  • don't be rushed or intimidated into a making a quick decision
  • never give your bank details to someone you've never met
  • a genuine organisation will not email you asking you to click on a link or download a form to complete to confirm your personal details
  • your bank will never email you asking you to confirm your PIN or online banking password
  • don't rely on search engines to find the website, type the web address into the browser address bar
  • don’t be tempted by online adverts for a 'free trial' of health-related products – you may find you enter a ‘subscription trap’ and end up paying more than just the P&P you anticipated
  • trust your gut feeling - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

How to help protect yourself from online scams

Use antivirus software and a firewall to help protect your computer – and make sure you keep them updated.

Do not open any attachment or download any files from an email you’ve received, especially if you don’t recognise the sender. They may contain malware which will weaken your computer’s security.

Do not email personal or financial information.