The internet is an incredible invention giving you access to the world from your computer or even out-and-about on your mobile phone.
It provides entertainment (i.e. movies; TV shows; music; comedy). You can find virtually any information quickly for study, work or hobbies and interests. You can shop from the comfort of your own home and find the best deals and offers on products and services. You can communicate with people around the world catching up with friends and family wherever they may be or hearing different perspectives on world events.
But it does, sadly, have a darker side.
How to spot a scam
- Authority: Criminals often pretend to be important people or organisations to trick you into doing what you want. Is it really your boss, bank or health centre?
- Urgency: Criminals will often say that you must do something quickly (such as “within 24 hours” or “immediately”) and threaten you with fines.
- Emotion: Does the email make you panic, fearful or curious. Criminals will often tease you into wanting to find out more.
- Scarcity: Fear of missing out on an opportunity can make you respond too quickly. Are you being offered concert tickets, medical cures or get rich quick schemes?
- Current events: Are you expecting to receive a message? Criminals will often exploit current news events to make their scam seem more relevant to you.
Remember if something seems too good to be true (a money saving opportunity to avoid rising gas bills; a holiday that looks amazingly cheap) it probably is.
Your bank or building society, government agency or any official organisation will never ask you to supply personal information via email.
Martin Bell, Head of Information & Insight
- Don’t click on a link or download anything you don’t trust, so you don’t get a computer virus.
- Be careful to protect your personal information so scammers can’t hack your accounts by impersonating you. Are you giving away too much about yourself on social media?
- Make sure you have a “strong” password for all your online accounts and crucially don’t reuse the same password elsewhere.
- If possible, always setup a second step, or two-factor authentication, for every account you have to make it harder
- It helps to question (briefly) every email you get.