A computer keyboard with a bank card on it with a fish hook through the card

How to protect yourself from online scams

Staying safe and secure when surfing the web

Going online to buy shopping, play games and do research is commonplace today, but increasingly we need to be careful of online scams. Fraudsters around the world send 14.5 billion spam emails every day. This article will tell you how to stay safe, and what to look out for to avoid being caught out.

It’s important to know how scammers try to dupe you into losing money to them. Whether you are on emails, surfing the web or using your latest smartphone, you need to keep your wits about you.

Someone surfing the web

How to spot online scams

Emails from people or companies you might recognise are designed to look official. These could be banks, shops or even the government. However, how can you be sure they are legitimate emails?

Take a good look at what the email says. Is it asking for personal information like your bank account details or password? Does it ask you to send money somewhere? Were you expecting to receive this email? No legitimate company will ask you to do any of these things via email. These types of emails which try to elicit personal details from you are called phishing scams. People who respond to these emails often end up in debt, so it is best just to delete them.

To find out more about email scams, visit the website Take Five to Stop Fraud to for advice on online safety.

Phishing alert on a tablet

What to do with fraudulent emails

If you think you have received a spam email, then don’t open it. Instead, delete it from your mailbox. If you have already opened it, then don’t click on any links and simply delete the message. Some fraudulent emails will have an “unsubscribe” button at the bottom. Believe it or not, clicking on this can attract even more spam to your inbox as it shows your email account is active, so leave well alone.

A person entering card details online

For further information on how to deal with spam emails, visit www.takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/takethetest. This website will take you through some typical examples of online scams, and you can challenge yourself to see how good you are!

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