The biggest scams you need to look out for right now

By The Newsroom
Monday, 16 April, 2018, 12:20

With fraudsters creating increasingly sophisticated new ways to con you out of your money and personal information, being aware of the most common scams doing the rounds could save you from being the next victim.

Here are a few of the biggest ones you need to watch out for right now.

Phone scams

Police recently issued a warning of a sophisticated new phone scam, in which the victim is targeted by a phone call from the number of a loved one.

The police warning came after a man received a call from his wife's mobile number and was informed that she had been in a car accident and required emergency surgery.

During the call, which came from a man with a 'foreign sounding accent' who introduced himself as a doctor from the Friarage Hospital, the victim was told the required procedure was not covered by the NHS and requested bank details to make a transfer of £300 to cover the surgery.

If you receive such a call, police advise contacting Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

'Phishing'

Phishing is one of the most common types of online scam and usually occurs in the form of an email, with fraudsters inviting addressees to provide personal information under the guise of a genuine company.

The email appears to be from a legitimate company (most commonly a bank or credit card company) and will ask you to update or confirm your account details by following a link to a bogus website.

While these emails can often appear official, there are a few things to look out for to avoid being caught out:

• The sender's email or web address is different to the genuine company's• The email is sent from a different address or a free web mail address• The email uses a non-specific greeting, rather than your name• The email contains a threat to close your account unless you act immediately

'Smishing'

Similar to phishing, this approach involves fraudsters contacting victims via SMS message instead of an email.

The message will again claim to be from a legitimate company and invite the receiver to follow a link and enter their online banking passwords and personal information.

The most common smishing scams usually claim to be from your bank, with the more sophisticated ones even appearing in pre-existing message threads if the display name is the same.

Scams which invite people to provide their bank details are the most common (Photo: Shutterstock)

'Vishing'

This type of scam involves fraudsters cold-calling their victims and pretending to be from their bank, or an authority of some kind.

Victims will be informed their account has been compromised and asked to confirm their bank details as a matter of urgency.

Much like smishing scams, fraudsters are able to hide their number so it cannot be traced.

Santander scam

Santander customers have recently been targeted with a smishing scam in which they receive a text, apparently sent by the bank, claiming suspicious activity has been detected in their account.

The message includes a link to a page much like the official Santander website and since it appears in the bank's own feed on customer's phones, the sophisticated scam looks extremely convincing.

Customers are advised not to click on the link or enter any details.

Subscription cons

Advertisements for free product trials, often of beauty or health related items, may appear as pop-ups or on reputable sites inviting you to enter your card details to cover the cost of the postage and packaging.

This can lead to being debited large sums of money on a regular basis, as customers are duped into agreeing to a continuous payment authority.

Cryptocurrency scams dupe victims into paying money which they believe is for a legitimate investment (Photo: Shutterstock)

Fake cryptocurrencies

Fraudsters create a fake crypotcurrency which is then launched via phishing emails, social media adverts and fake websites, and steal any money which is given to them by investors.

To protect yourself from being duped, it's wise to undertake sufficient research before considering making an investment - sites such as CoinDesk are useful to verify whether it's legitimate.

Prize draws and lottery scams

A familiar scam to many, this email message will inform you that you have won a large cash prize and will ask you to pay a small handling fee in order to claim your winnings.

While this scam preys on people's desire to win money, these emails will often be for competitions which you haven't entered.

If you did purchase a lottery ticket, they are easy to spot as a legitimate company would never charge for you to collect your prize.

'Miracle' health cures

Often sent via email, these scams offer customers so-called 'miracle' health products which claim to cure problems such as arthritis or diabetes, or will claim to help you lose weight.

These typically feature bogus quotes from "doctors" and "satisfied customers", along with a no risk money back guarantee or a free trial.