How to (hopefully) spot a scam

We’ve been warning about scam telephone calls and emails for a long time.

Sadly they seem to growing in number and sophistication with more and more people being caught out and robbed.

If you have any doubt whatsoever about a telephone call or an email that you receive, hang up the phone or delete the email at once. Give no personal information to anyone you don’t know and don’t open any links in an email.

Here is a bit if a guide to what to look out for.

The more obvious ones – lotteries you’ve never heard of let alone entered, unexpected large amounts of money that need to “rest” in your account, banks or credit card firms you don’t use – ignore and delete.

Your bank or building society, HMRC, the PSNI, any of the energy suppliers, the Post Office, or any other reputable company will not phone you out of the blue / email you / text you to tell you that your money in the bank is at risk, the police are on the way to arrest you for unpaid tax or bills, you owe a fee to have a parcel delivered, your electricity or gas is about to be cut off, or for any of the other reasons scammers will try to frighten you or put you off balance.

If you receive any communication saying any of the above it is a lie, and someone is trying to rob you. Don’t reply to an email or a text, and put the phone down. Don’t enter into any of it. Delete and block if it is an email or text, and if your phone allows it block the telephone number.

One to particularly watch for is a nearly legitimate link in an official looking email. The thieves have become adept at making their emails look real. The days of badly scanned logos and spelling mistakes are mostly gone, but they give themselves away with links for you to click.

If you want to go to Amazon, you click on and do your shopping. A scam Amazon Prime email (as an example) will want you to go to or similar – note the spelling mistake – or the likes of which is nothing to do with the legitimate site. Any such links are to be avoided at all cost.

Another tactic used by telephone scammers is for them to “understand” that you think that their call (usually from a bank security service) is a theft attempt, and for them to give you the correct number for your banks fraud team. You hang up, but because they don’t the line does not clear.

They will then play a dialling tone sound to you, so that when you think that you are ringing the “bank” you end up speaking to another of the scammers who reassures you that the original call is legitimate, and “transfers” you back to the original caller who then steals your money.

One very sneaky and recent one is an email scam, pretending to be from someone you know, who is in trouble but can’t get to the phone. If you reply, you will be asked for money to aid your “friend”. All you will be doing is giving your money away to a thief. If you get such an email, contact your friend by phone or in person and tell them what is happening.

Please be very, very careful.

Anything that sounds remotely doubtful probably is. Don’t give any personal information unless you are absolutely certain who you are speaking to.

If you have any concerns about a number which has called you and asked for details or claims to be someone that they may not be, ring the police on 101 and make a report.


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