There are many different types of scams out there, all of which are designed to steal information and money from vulnerable people. So hopefully the information I’ve provided here will go some way to raising a bit of awareness.
- My Posts – Explanations of scams that I have been targeted by.
- Scambaiters – Videos by people who expose and bring down scammers.
- Email Advice – The red flags that will help you to spot scam messages.
- Phonecall Advice – The warning signs of unsolicited phonecall scams.
- Useful Links – More important advice & resources.
In the UK, you can report any suspicious activity to Action Fraud. You should also forward any scam emails you receive to firstname.lastname@example.org, where it will be analysed by the National Cyber Security Centre (part of GCHQ), so they can take the appropriate action.
In these posts I talk about the occasional scams that have come to my notice, usually by email but also by post or phone, in order to make people aware of them. I’ve also made a video about a few of the earliest scam emails I posted about.
- Adult Site Blackmail
- Apple – iCloud, iTunes & App Purchase
- IMF Compensation
- Lockdown Scams
- Metro Bank
- Mr Latif, Born Gifted
- Royal Mail
- TV Licensing
I also strongly recommend watching videos by scambaiters who expose and explain telephone and computer scams, including:
Here are some common warning signs to look for in scam emails. If you spot just one of these, then be extremely careful:
- A “From” address that is clearly unrelated to the company. NEVER go by the sender’s name that is displayed in the “From” field. Always click on the name to view the address beneath it. Even if the company name is in the address, that doesn’t mean it’s genuine, so be sure to check that it matches their real website address, or an email address provided on their website.
- A “To” address that isn’t yours. If you can’t see your address, then you’re on a blind copy list to multiple people, so the email clearly isn’t just for you. But even if you can see your own email address, that in itself does not mean it’s genuine.
- A salutation that doesn’t address you by name e.g. “Dear Customer”. This proves that it isn’t personal, because genuinely important messages address you by name.
- Grammar & spelling errors, even if they’re occasional small ones. It is NOT the case that all scam emails have errors, because some scams are very sophisticated and are written very well. However, if there are errors, it’s a big warning sign.
- Dodgy link addresses. NEVER click a link in a suspicious email. Just hover your mouse over it to examine the address. Look for the first single forward slash (/), as whatever comes just before it is where it’s really going (anything after it is irrelevant). If it’s not going to a website address that you expect, do not click it.
Ultimately, if you’re EVER unsure about an email, even slightly, then never use any links or contact details in the message. Instead, find the real company’s website yourself via Google and contact them via the details they provide there.
Here are some tips when it comes to unsolicited phonecalls:
- Bank Scams – Your real bank will NEVER ask for your card details, PIN number, etc, as it’s already on their system and they don’t need it to access your account anyway. So NEVER give this information out to a unsolicited caller. In addition, some bank scammers tell you to put the phone down and ring the bank yourself to verify they’re genuine. However, they will NOT hang up when you do, so when you pick up again and dial, they’ll still be on the line, and will pretend to answer as the bank. So instead, look up your bank’s contact details on their website or your bank statements, and ring them from a different number (e.g. your mobile instead of the landline). Do NOT dial any number that the scammer has given you.
- Computer Support Scams – If an unexpected tech support person calls you, claiming they’ve noticed something wrong with your computer, it’s a scam. DO NOT give them access to your PC or pay them for any tech services.
- Tax Scams – If you get a call or a recorded messages claiming to be from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, claiming that there is legal action being taken against you for failing to pay enough tax, ignore it. This is a very common scam, designed to con money out of victims using scare tactics. HMRC do NOT make calls of this nature. Everything they do is in writing.
- General Note – If an unfamiliar company calls to offer you a service, DON’T take it. Even if they claim to be a company you already know, don’t sign up for anything unless you’re absolutely, perfectly, 100% sure that they’re legitimate, because anyone can ring and claim they’re from anywhere. If in ANY doubt, contact the company by email or a contact phone number or social media, using details you’ve obtained yourself from their official website.
- Action Fraud
- Age UK – Scams & Fraud
- Citizens Advice – How to check if something might be a scam
- Metropolitan Police – Personal fraund and how to prevent it
- Money Advice Service – A beginner’s guide to scams
- Money Saving Expert – 30+ ways to stop scams
- Sixty And Me – Common scams targeting the elderly and how to avoid them
- Take Five To Stop Fraud
- Which? – Scams Information