There are various types of online scams which can threaten your data, computer system and personal security. If you receive an email or call which asks for personal information, requires money to be sent, asks you to click a link or open an attachment, be aware it could be a scam.

A scammer may contact you pretending to be a legitimate business such as a bank, telephone or internet service provider. You may be contacted by email, social media, phone call, or text message. The aim of these scams can be to trick victims into providing personal banking information, convince people to send large amounts of money or even to infect the victim’s computer with unwanted viruses, spyware or malware. So what should you look out for and how can you protect yourself?

10 Warning Signs

1. A bank, telecommunications provider or other business contacts you asking to update or verify your details.

2. The email or text message does not address you by your proper name.

3. The email contains typing errors and grammatical mistakes.

4. The website or email address does not look like a verified address used by an organisation.

5. They are requesting details which the legitimate site or organisation does not normally ask for.

6. After clicking on an email, your computer behaves differently or not as fast as it normally does.

7. New icons appear on your computer screen without your consent.

8. You receive a letter, email, text or call saying you have won a prize in a lottery or competition that you did not enter.

9. You are asked to provide your bank account details, important documents or to send money.

10. Too good to be true – an offer which promises a large reward for a small fee is almost certainly a scam.

10 Ways to Protect Yourself

1. If an email appears suspicious do not click on links, open attachments or reply to verify your details. Remember that banks will never ask for confidential information via email.

2. Conduct an internet search of the names or exact wording of a suspicious email to check for any scam references.

3. Look for ‘https:’ rather than ‘http:’ at the start of the Internet address.

4. Do not send money, give credit card details, provide online account details or copies of important personal documents via email to someone you do not know.

5. Over the phone, beware if you receive a call from an organisation, like Microsoft. Ask for the caller’s name and staff ID and independently check by directly calling back the business or organisation with a number you have verified to be correct and not the number given to you by the caller.

6. Delete suspicious emails. This ensures any dangerous viruses attached to the scam email do not pose a risk to you or your computer.

7. Secure your networks and devices with strong passwords and avoid using public computers or WiFi hotspots when you are accessing or providing personal information.

8. Ensure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software are up to date and installed on your computer.

9. Make sure a firewall is installed and activated on your computer.

10. Do not simply trust a logo or brand name.  A lot of time and money is often put into scams to make them appear as authentic as possible.

For more information on types of scams, how to detect them and how to protect yourself, visit the scam watch website. If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.