Spot the Scammers – How to stay ahead of the hoaxers

The internet is awesome for connecting people around the world, but in regards to your twice removed cousin needing money in Mumbai, well we’re more than a little dubious…

Cybercriminals are getting more creative in how they infiltrate our online lives, aiming to steal our data, our identities, and our money through elaborate stories and sometimes fear-inducing messages. You might get a facebook message from that distant cousin, a phone call from a company congratulating you on winning a prize, or an official email letting you know your parcel is stuck in customs until you pay a fine. It’s easier than you think to be subject to an online fraud attack, so check out our six signs for spotting a scammer; these quick tips will help you and your family stay safe online.

1. Check the sender’s email address

The sender’s email address should match the name of the company sending you an email.

For example, an email from us will always end in (such as [email protected]) if you receive an email from an address with a strange symbol, letter or number such as, then this could be a sign that it’s not a genuine email.

2. Check in with your emotions

Email’s or messages which come from an individual in need of help will often send you an embellished story which plays on your emotions, and which often ends with a request for money. Be it a threat, a sad story, or someone blackmailing you, the email has been created to heighten your emotions and create a false sense of urgency. Take your time to read the email again, carrying out the checks listed in this article, and ask yourself, does it sound like it’s a true story?

3. They want to know what?

Genuine e-commerce companies and banks will never ask for your personal or bank details to be provided by email, or ask you to click through to a webpage to enter your financial details online. This one’s pretty cut and dry, play it safe and never provide personal financial details online.

4. Wacth out for typos

Every typo does not necessarily mean it’s a bogus message (even us marketers have our off days!) but poor spelling, grammar or low-quality images can be a sign that an email is not genuine.

5. Call me, maybe?

Companies may provide a URL or a phone number within their email, asking you to get in touch to confirm your details. Rather than clicking the link or calling the number provided, the safest thing to do is to open a new browser and locate the company’s website (for example by using Google search) and then contact the company using the details listed on their website. You could also do this if someone calls you from a company, tell them you’ll locate their number on their website and ring them back.

6. The best things in life are free

Free upgrades on an empty plane, free sauce on your chips, free set up for your broadband, yes, these things are all great! However, emails congratulating you on winning competitions (especially ones which you never entered) can sadly be too good to be true. Clicking a link to download a prize or to read further details about an offer can sometimes download viruses and malware on your computer. Avoid clicking any links or pop-ups, check who the company/sender is, and navigate to the webpage through a new browser.