Top five ways to spot an online scam

Find out how you can identify an online scam and avoid online theft.

Scammers have mastered their craft online and with technology regularly changing it can be difficult to detect when they are targeting you. Most scams share the same or very similar components therefore here are the top five ways to recognise an online scan as soon as you spot it.

  1. When money is involved
    This might be a prize, sweepstakes, phishing, or reshipping. Scammers will generally say you have won money, you have been left money, or your money may even be in danger. Never give out any credit card, bank details or personal information to anyone contacting you via an email, or a link found in a pop-up message.
  2. Sounds too good to be true
    Follow the old saying, “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is”. Some scammers will convince you to install software onto your computer, giving them the chance to access your personal details. Often this software is disguised as malware, software which gains authorisation access to your computer. This technique allows scammers to make money via a virtual black market.
  3. Sense of urgency
    Phishing scammers often create a false sense of urgency and attempt to create panic for the victim. Like the way a magician uses misdirection, scammers use false urgency to distract you from their end goal. Always investigate an email before acting on its content. Check for keywords or phrases which may be flagged as scammer material on the internet.
  4. Fear
    Scammers will often attempt to manipulate you into acting a certain way using fear. This may be done by telling you something is wrong with your account or that your computer is under attack to frighten you. Some scammers go as far as trying to convince you that they are enforcing the law, claiming that you have committed a crime by downloading pirated material. They will often claim that you need to pay a fine, however, this is blackmail under false pretence.
  5. Personal information
    Apart from wanting your money, scammers love gaining your personal information. Never give out your private information online. If you would feel uncomfortable telling a stranger the same information that the online profile is asking for, or believe that it is unnecessary, then it is best to not respond.

If anyone is claiming to be contacting you on behalf of your bank, call the customer service number on your latest bank statement and confirm the validity of the message either over the phone or in person. You should never call an unknown number given in an email. Remember, your bank will not communicate any messages to do with transactions via email.