don't get caught by a scam!
Don't be caught by email or telephone scams.
Never respond to unexpected email of telephone calls - see our guide to help you avoid the scammers!
There is plenty of helpful advice available online.
The Government's Office of Fair Trading provides a lot of helpful information, including a form to report suspected scams.
Email and web scams
If you receive an email from an unknown source (and remember your bank or any other such organisation will never send you an email requiring you to click on a link to verify your details) NEVER reply to it and NEVER click on any link or attachment. If it appears to be from an organisation to which you have an account etc, then use your web browser to access that organisation to follow up - NEVER click on a link in an email.Such links are there to highjack your computer or your account either directly or by taking you to a bogus site that looks like the real site. Never give security information to a website unless you are very sure it is genuine.
Make sure you have reliable Antivirus, Antispyware / AntiMalware software installed and updated on your computer, also, that you have a good firewall turned on: newer versions of Windows ship with a reliable firewall, as do Macs. Good free versions include Microsoft Security Essentials, Avast free version, and Avira free version. (Be aware that some malicious software masquerades as legitimate security software). Banks now offer web security software such as 'Trusteer Rapport', which allows you to mark sites you trust and will flag if the site has been hi-jacked and you have been directed to a bogus scam site.
When buying online, check independent reviews of the company before buying and UK sites must by law show a geographic address and contact details - if not - walk away!
Beware of cold calls claiming to be from survey companies, e.g. energy surveys "have you had a government grant for insulation". They will ask you for a lot of information and then move to try to sell to you. Never buy because 'the deal must be closed today'. Always ask for information by post - this will often deter the caller. You can always ask for the name of the company, NOT their number; find their number on the web or directory enquiries and call them back. If they will not give you an address, or they readily offer you a phone number, be suspicious.
A recent phone scam was calling on behalf of the Police - selling advertising in a crime prevention calendar, this then switched to being from the Police press office and representing all the emergency services. The person calling did not want the recipient to call them via the police headquarters or police press office and finally cut off the call. Remember neither the police, nor other emergency services will ever call you to sell anything.
With any suspicious cold calls DO NOT give any security, bank or card details, do not pass on anyone else's details for contact. Be on the lookout for foreign accents, poor English etc. Remember you will not have won without personally entering a competition, always be very suspicious. Nobody calls you out of the blue unless they want your money! You can always put a suspect email address, subject or telephone caller company into Google, It will often flag up that it is suspect.
(Photo: thanks to Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier, CC)