Email and online shopping can make our lives a lot easier, but they also create new opportunities for fraud. Online scams are becoming increasingly common and sophisticated, so it's good to know how to keep yourself safe.
What is an email scam?
Scammers will send bogus emails in the hope that people will enter their personal details. They may direct you to a fake website, trick you into thinking you’ve won a lottery or prize, or pretend to be someone you may know who has been stranded somewhere and needs money.
Some emails may also have a link or file attached for you to click on or open. These are sometimes called spam or junk emails. Opening these links or downloading the files may be harmful to your computer.
If you see a suspicious email, don’t reply with your details or open any links or documents. Delete the email straight away. If the email claims to be from an organisation, phone them directly using the phone number found on their official website and ask them.
Scammers are constantly finding new ways to trick people and online scams are changing all the time. It’s not unusual for people to get tricked, so don’t suffer in silence and don’t be embarrassed to report it.
What can you do?
Here are some ways you can protect yourself from email scams.
- Ignore attachments: Don’t open any attachments to an email unless you know they’re safe.
- Leave the links: Don’t click on any links within emails that claim to direct you to your bank, utility company or HMRC. Always search for the website yourself instead.
- Report and delete: Report scam emails to Action Fraud, then make sure you delete them.
- Don’t reply: Never reply to scam emails, even to say ‘No’. This will let the scammer know that your email address is active and they’ll send you more emails.
- Double-check: If you get an unexpected request for payment from someone claiming to be a trusted company or your solicitor, look up their phone number and give them a call to double-check.
- Filter junk: Check your email account is set up to filter junk (or spam) mail. This may help remove some suspicious emails from your inbox automatically
To report scam emails, contact Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and internet crime, on 0300 123 2040.
You can also get more advice on how to deal with scam emails from www.getsafeonline.org or contact our Advice and Advocacy Service on 0808 808 7575.