Scams come in all shapes and sizes, constantly adapting to the environment. However, they have one thing in common – their aim is to gain as much personal information as possible. The more information they harvest, the more likely the people behind them can successfully commit identity fraud or steal your money.
But never fear, as sophisticated as these cons become, there are a few tell-tale signs that will help you spot the risks. We’ve put together a simple guide, to help you spot a few of the more common scams.
Please note: The following advice provides useful tips against scams, however it is not designed to replace professional advice. If you are in any doubt, you should consult a qualified expert for their help.
What is a phishing email?
Phishing is a process where scammers use emails, text messages or phone calls to trick victims into handing over their personal details. These cons often require the victims to visit a website which may download a virus onto their device or steal personal information. There are some obvious signs that could indicate a bogus email, these include:
What to do if you receive a phishing email?
Receiving a suspicious email can leave you feeling nervous, but there’s no need to be. If you suspect an email is malicious follow these simple steps:
How to report a phishing email
If you think you’ve received a phishing email, there are a few ways to report the incident.
Firstly, most major email domain providers have their own email addresses where you can forward suspicious mail. For example, if you own a Microsoft outlook account, you can select the suspicious message, choose “report message” from the ribbon, and select “phishing”. Alternatively, if you’re using outlook.com, you can tick the box next to the email, then select the arrow next to “junk”, followed by the “phishing” option.
Text message scams
What are text message scams?
Text message scams tend to notify victims of a missed parcel delivery, where they need to pay a fee to receive their goods. However, this isn't the only trick scammers use.
Signs of text message scam
Scammers will try to quickly gain your trust through text messages and phone calls, pressuring you to act drastically without thinking. If a message or call makes you feel pressured, stop, break the contact and consider the language used. Although cons can vary, scams often do feature one or more of the following signs:
How to check if a text message is genuine?
If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of a message, contact the organization directly. Don’t use the numbers, emails address or postal address mentioned in the suspicious message - as they’re likely to be held by the scammer. Instead, source the correct details from the company’s official website.
Remember, your bank or any other official source with never ask you to supply personal information via text, email, phone or letter. If you suspect some is not who they claim, hang up and contact the organisation directly. If you have paper statements or a credit card from the organisation, official contact details can usually be found on them.
Phone call scams
What are phone call scams?
Much like text message scams, phone call phishing typically involves criminals posing as an official organisation or respected member of society, such as your bank or healthcare provider, in the hope of extracting personal information over the phone.
Signs of a phone call scam
Spotting a phishing phone call can sometimes be tricky, as it’s hard to confirm the identity of the person who contacted you. However, there are a few things you should look out for if you suspect something isn’t right:
If you suspect something isn’t right with the call you’ve received, simply hang up. If you’ve received a phone call from a legitimate source, they shouldn’t take issue if you hang up and call them back using their official contact number. If they provide you with a different number to call, check that it belongs to the trusted source before calling it.
Entering the number into a search engine (eg Google) should show you who owns the number. If it’s not the company’s number, call the brand on their official number to check when they last wanted to contact you by phone.
If you’re concerned, take the name of the person you’re speaking to, hang up and call the official company directly. If you can, call them from a different phone. If you’re unable to use another phone, ideally wait at least 10 minutes before making the call to the trusted organisation.
Please remember if you are in any doubt, you should consult a qualified expert for their help.