Careful what you click - don't make yourself vulnerable to scams

Why you always need to be careful what you click on

Phones, tablets, fitness trackers. We live our lives online. But while this has opened up a world of new possibilities, it's also made us vulnerable to hackers, scammers and fraudsters.

See also: How to avoid email phishing scams

See also: Too many accounts leaves us at risk from hackers and scammers

As part of our week looking at scams, we take a look at the kind of tactics criminals might use to target you on your online devices.


What is it?

An email scam where someone sends you an email from what appears to be a legitimate source, like your bank, HM Revenue and Customs or PayPal. You will then be asked to follow a link and enter your login details. In reality this is a fake website which collects your information.

How to spot it?

The first thing to look at is how the email addresses you. Scammers will commonly use something general like Dear Sir, Dear Madam or Dear Customer, but legitimate emails will use your name.

Second, look at the email address it comes from. This can normally be done by expanding the section at the top of the email. A legitimate email will come from a recognisable email address (e.g. Scammers will have to fill it in with random numbers and letters to make it seem real (e.g.

What to do?

Never click the links in email. Always open a new internet browser window and go to the site directly and log in. This way, you'll never get caught out by a fake website.


What is it?

Similar to phishing, but without the email. Scammers attack the website your visiting, so you end up getting sent to a fake website.

How to spot it?

More difficult, as you put in the right website address and would naturally assume you've gone to the real website.

You will need to be very observant. The website address will show up, not as the name of you were expecting, but as a selection of numbers, or something similar to the real name, but with letters switched around, or a different spelling.

What to do?

Be observant when you're logging into websites and be on the look-out for dodgy looking website addresses. It is also vital to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.


What is it?

Text message scam. Scammers will get in contact with you claiming to be from your bank, asking you to update your personal details, or give them a call.

The text message might include a link, like a Phishing scam, or a phone number to call. The phone number is fake and the fraudsters will try to get you to reveal your details.

How to spot it?

Hard to spot, so it's best to always be suspicious. One giveaway might be the phone number in the message will not be the same as the one on your credit or debit card.

What to do?

Never click a link in a text message. Go directly to your banks website. If you are worried your bank's really trying to get in contact with you, call the number on your credit or debit card, not the one in the text message.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

Victims of scams and fraud
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Victims of scams and fraud
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.

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