There are many online, phone and postal scams out there, designed to extort money out of vulnerable people. So the following links hopefully 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.
- How to check if something might be a scam – Useful tips from Citizens Advice.
In the UK, you can report any suspicious activity to Action Fraud. You should also forward any scam emails you receive to email@example.com, where it will be analysed by the National Cyber Security Centre (part of GCHQ), so they can take the appropriate action.
Important: Please be careful of coronavirus-related scams at this time, including:
- Messages claiming to be from someone you know asking for help e.g. money or vouchers.
- Messages claiming that you’re entitled to a payment, which you can apply for via a link.
- Messages claiming that you have been fined for doing something, such as leaving your home.
- Calls claiming to be from Ofcom advising that your broadband needs to be slowed down or switched off.
Always check directly with the organisation or individual concerned, via their website or a phone number you already have, before giving out any money or personal information. Report any suspicious activity to Action Fraud.
There are more links relating to Coronavirus scams on my Lockdown Resources page.
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 posted a video looking at 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 just one of these, even if it’s just one, 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.
- 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 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
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. They don’t need it, as they can already access your account on their system. 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 on social media, using details you’ve obtained yourself from their official website.