If you’ve ever received a suspicious email claiming to be from your bank and asking for security information, you may have been the target of a common scam called ‘phishing’.
This is when criminals send bogus emails to thousands of people in the hope that they will disclose private information.
A common scam is for a fraudster to send an email claiming to be from your bank or another trusted organisation, which directs you to a fake website where you will be asked to enter your account details. The website will often be cleverly designed to look like the real organisation’s website.
These are common signs that an email is a phishing scam:
- the sender’s email address doesn’t match the organisation’s real website address
- the email uses a general greeting like ‘dear customer’ instead of your actual name
- there’s a sense of urgency, e.g. threatening to close your account if you don’t act immediately
- there’s a link that may look similar to the proper address but is in fact slightly different and will take you to a fake website
- you’re asked for personal information, such as your username or password.
Banks and other financial institutions will never ask you for your personal information in an email.
Never reply to scam emails, even to say ‘no’. This will let the sender know that your email address is active and it is likely to encourage them to send more.
Most email accounts can be set up to block spam (i.e. unwanted emails), so check your settings or the help pages of your email account.
If you’ve lost money through an email scam, report it to Action Fraud. The anti-fraud group Think Jessica can also offer advice.