Scam emails are designed to make you believe they come from someone or an organisation that you know and trust. They do this in a number of ways and can be very convincing.
Emails from ‘your bank’
Generally known as phishing emails, the message will ask you to click a link and log in to your online account to update your information. The email may contain your bank’s logo and some official-sounding text. But if you click on the link in the email you’ll actually be taken to a website set up by the scammer, who will take the details you put in and use them to steal from your account.
Never click on a link in an unsolicited email. Hover your mouse over the link and it will show the address where the link will actually take you. No bank will ask you to re-enter your details in this way – if in doubt, go to your bank’s official website and check.
Emails from ‘friends’
Other scam emails pretend to be from someone you know, perhaps telling you that their money has been stolen while on holiday and asking for a loan. Often, the way they’re written will give away the fact that they’re a hoax. If in doubt, contact the person directly by another means before opening any attachments or clicking any links.
Emails from ‘abroad’
Another common scam is the lottery win, the long lost inheritance or bank account transfer. These all play on our dreams of becoming rich. Again these can seem very convincing and at first you may feel amazed at winning a lottery that you had never entered, or that you will be given money from a dead relative you didn’t realise you had, or that someone will pay you handsomely if you let them transfer money into your account temporarily. The clue is that you’ll be asked to provide bank details to secure these tempting funds. Remember, if an email sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
Trust your instincts
If you’re in any doubt, don’t click on any links or attachments, and don’t respond. If your email system allows it, simply mark it as spam, junk or a scam, otherwise delete it. If you’re unsure, telephone the company directly or email using an address from their website to ask if they’ve contacted you.