Online scams: don't get caught out


22 April 2020

image: Computer email scamCyber criminals are taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis – don’t get caught out with an online scam. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has come up with some handy guidance to help you spot and avoid a potential scam.

What kind of scams are out there?

You may have been sent an email or text claiming to have a ‘cure’ for the virus, telling you you've come into contact with someone who's had the virus, offering a financial reward, or encouraging you to donate. They’re designed to get you to click on a bad link without even thinking.

Telltale signs of a scam

  • Authority – Sender claims to be someone official (like a bank, doctor, solicitor or government department)
  • Urgency – You’ve a very limited time to respond
  • Emotion – Threatening language or false claims of support are aimed to frighten you into taking action
  • Scarcity – The message may be offering something that is in short supply (like face masks or medicines)
  • Details – Scammers will ask you for your personal information, including bank details. Your bank would never do this. If you have doubts, call your bank directly to check. Don’t be tempted to use contact details the scammer has provided as it could link to a fake number. 

What to do if you're caught out

Don't panic! If you click a bad link or enter your details in a site from a bad link, there are things you can do:

  • Contact your bank immediately if you suspect you’ve given your details to a scammer. If you’ve lost money, report it to Action Fraud
  • If you think any of your online accounts may have been hacked, refer to the NCSC's guidance here.
  • Run a full antivurus scan on your computer and allow it to clean up problems it finds
  • Change passwords on your accounts if you think they’ve been compromised

Make it harder for the scammer to target you

Scammers can get a lot of information about you from simply looking at social media platforms. They use this information to make their scams more convincing. 
  • Review your privacy settings on all your social media channels 
  • Think about what you’re posting online 
  • Be aware of what your friends, family and colleagues are saying about you online
  • Flag all suspicious emails to your email provider as soon as you get them. You can also report suspicious emails on the NCSC website. 
Have a question? I'm here to help