This week, a Mumsnet poll found 90% of those surveyed have trouble recognising scams.
Criminals target victims through stolen mail, hacking and the dark web to get their hands on key information, before fraudulently applying for loans and buying goods in their names.
Are you putting your identity at risk? Take our quiz to find out – and learn how to protect yourself...
What is phishing?
a) A form of riverside recreation.
b) A phone call or text claiming you have won an iPhone, a great supermarket voucher or other too-good-to-be-true deal.
c) An email from an unusual sender containing a link or an attachment.
ANSWER: b and c
Phishing is a form of cyber-crime conducted via email by someone posing as a legitimate institution to lure you into providing personal details. It can also be called vishing (phone calls) or smishing (texts).
Favoured tactics include deals that encourage you to click on hyperlinks or attachments as a way of getting your information. Never click on them.
Hovering over a link will reveal its URL. Look for spelling mistakes – common in phishing cases – or a different address. For example, barclays.co.uk could become barclaysbank.co.ukYou have trouble remembering passwords. Should you have:
a) The same one for everything?
b) Various combinations that include the name of pets or your birth date?
c) Different passwords made up of a mix of numbers, letters and symbols?
The easiest way to remember a password is to use just one but that is also potential disaster. Databases of illegally harvested information, obtained in attacks, are posted by hackers online.
If an account has been compromised and security is the same for all, Christmas has come early for the fraudsters. Other details, such as pets' names, can often be gleaned from social media.
If you find it difficult to recall lots of combinations, use a password manager. Many are free, such as Last Past, which generates strong passwords for your accounts and also stores them for you.
For the main password to the app, use a phrase with at least 14 characters, broken up with numbers or symbols.
You are heading off for some Christmas sun and want to show off your holiday snaps. Do you:
a) Post them on Instagram as soon as you get to the airport, the beach, the hotel, the pool etc?
b) Pick a selection of photos and post them once you've got home?
c) Leave your phone in the hotel safe for two weeks?
ANSWER: b or c
You wouldn't leave keys under the mat, or your home or windows open when on holiday, would you?
But that's effectively what you're doing when posting holiday snaps on
It is an invitation to burglars. Many social media users also display personal information – date and place of birth etc – which is just what banks ask for in security checks.
Black Friday sale
See also: Martin Lewis warns of 'dirty scammers' using his name for fraud
See also: Family scammed out of £2,300 villa rental after emails intercepted
Your wi-fi connection goes down at home and you need to book a flight asap. Do you:
a) Use the free connection in the local shopping centre?
b) Visit a nearby coffee shop?
c) Curse but wait until your home connection is back up and running?
Public wi-fi spots are often not fully secure, so using them for online banking or shopping can have disastrous consequences.
The most common wi-fi threat is a man-in-the-middle attack when cyber-criminals take over a public network and redirect victims' communications through the network.
Another is to set up a spoof network – an "evil twin" – using the name of a shop, hotel or cafe then infiltrate the victim's device when they try to log on.
In short, emailing and using social networks are fine but avoid using banking services, and don't
shop online and reveal your financial details.
a) Give them the details?
b) Hang up and then call the number back?
c) Hang up, check the number is genuine and then call the bank from another phone line?
Banks will never ask for your personal details or security information, and customers should never respond to any call, email or text asking for this.
Fraudsters can also use fake numbers that look like the bank's phone number to hide their identity. Use a number checker tool on the bank's website to ensure it is genuine.
It is also worth phoning the bank from another line if possible, as crooks have been known to use a "no hang-up" scam, where they stay on the line to fool people into thinking they have called their bank.
You're cold-called by a travel agent or company offering a very cheap holiday. Do you:
a) Pay a deposit immediately to secure the deal?
c) Check their site for spelling mistakes, images copied from other sites and whether they are registered with the Association of British Travel Agents.
Fraudsters use fake online adverts, bogus sales calls, emails and text messages offering incredibly cheap rates to tempt you to book a holiday with them.
They may also steal images of hotels or rented apartments from other travel websites and pass them off as their own, as well as posting what appear to be genuine reviews.
The con comes when you are told to pay in cash or via a bank transfer for a holiday or villa that doesn't exist.
Don't reply to unsolicited emails, texts, social media or calls with holiday offers. Again, links and attachments in emails may lead to malicious sites or viruses.