How to stay safe and avoid online scams

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As fraudsters get more sophisticated, we’ve collected tips on how to spot and avoid six major online scams.

Take Five to Stop Fraud

Cryptocurrency scams

Crypto currency scams try to get you to invest in currencies that don't exist or opportunities that don't exist. Fraudsters may offer returns that aren’t realistic or try to rush you into investing to get your details.

These scams may take a long time to be found out. Everything may seem okay, until the victim tries to take money back out of their account.

How to spot cryptocurrency scams

  • Unlikely ads – You see adverts on social media that offer very high returns.
  • Urgency – You may be told that you need to invest now to get a high return.
  • Check out the provider – Look for reviews that the service is real before handing over any details.

Tech support scams

Tech support scams use the threat of risk to your device or files to capture your information or encourage you to pay for false IT problems to be fixed. 

They use tricks to make it seem that there is a problem with your device – and they can fix it for you. Scammers might contact you by phone, or a pop-up on your device asking you to call for support. 

How to avoid tech support scams:

  • Check any number that you are given to call against the company.
  • Don’t download remote access software.
  • If someone else can see your screen, don’t log into your financial accounts.
  • Don’t tell anyone your your username, password or access codes.
  • Use anti-virus software on your device and keep it up to date.

Holiday fraud

Holiday fraud involves paying for holidays that doesn’t exist. Scams also target people looking for refunds for delayed flights or cancelled holidays.

How to spot holiday fraud

  • The price is too good to be true – If the holiday seems too cheap, it could be a scam.
  • Bank transfer – Being asked to pay by bank transfer could be a red flag.
  • Not protected – The company is not ABTA members or ATOL holders.
  • Limited information – Online searches bring up very little about the company.

How to avoid holiday scams

  • Check for trust signals – An ATOL protected or ABTA holiday provider will have evidence on its website.
  • Only buy from trusted sites – Use well-known brands to book holidays.
  • Spot scam websites – Check for a locked padlock symbol and a website has ‘https’ at the start of the URL.
  • Look at reviews – Make sure to check reviews from a few different sources.
  • Don’t be rushed – Fake companies may try to rush you into handing over details to get a good deal or refund. Always take five and do your research.

Ticket fraud

Ticket fraud is a type of scam that offers tickets that don’t really exist, or fake tickets. This is often for in-demand events. This type of scam can be very disappointing, as you’ll also miss out on the event you were excited for.

Ticket fraudsters target people in lots of ways:
  • Websites that look like official ticket sellers.
  • Posts offering tickets on social media marketplaces.
  • Texts, emails or DMs advertising tickets.
  • They create fake posts or pages on social media to scam those looking for tickets.
  • You may be sent or given tickets only to be told they are fake when you arrive at the venue.
The safest way to book tickets is through an official seller. Look out for sellers who are part of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR).

How to spot ticket fraud

  • You are offered tickets in an email or social media message, instead of a trusted platform.
  • The price is much lower than you’d expect to pay.
  • The seller wants to be paid by bank transfer.
  • You are told that you can collect the ticket from a person outside the venue.

Phishing Email Scams

This is a type of scam where the scammer contacts you via email, pretending to be from a real brand to try steal your details.

How to spot a phishing email:

  • Check the sender email address – Check that the email is genuine, and look out for random letters, or tricks like a 1 instead of an “I”.
  • Do they use your name or ‘Dear customer’? – If they don’t use your name it’s likely they don’t know who you are.
  • Mistakes – Check the format, grammar and spelling. If it doesn’t look right, it may be a scam.

What to do if you get a phishing email

  • Don’t click on the links or download any attachments.
  • Don’t give any details.
  • Flag the email as spam with your email platform.
  • Delete it.
If you ever received an email pretending to be from YBS, contact

Fake websites

These are sites set up to look like genuine businesses that are offering cheap deals to gain your details

These scams will often have prices that seem “too good to be true” to lure people into buying things that often don’t exist.

How to spot a fake website

  • Be wary of extreme bargains – If it looks too good to be true it probably is, so be wary of very cheap deals.
  • Check for errors – Check the format, grammar and spelling, as well as small print and return policies.
  • Reviews – Check review sites, like Trustpilot.
  • Check the address bar – Secure sites will show a padlock symbol and the full URL will start with https:// - the ‘s’ stands for secure.
  • Research the name – Search the name of the company to see if anyone has reported them as fake.
  • Urgency – Fake websites often try to rush you into making a purchase.

What to do if you think a website is fake

  • Close the window down and leave the site.
  • Don’t enter any details, buy or download anything.
  • Don’t click on any pop-ups.

Tips for staying safe online

  1. Unique passwords for each account - It’s tempting to re-use passwords, but if one account is hacked, then the fraudster will have access to all your other accounts too. 
  2. Use weird passwords - Random words and numbers can make your passport harder to crack.
  3. Turn on two-factor authentication - Banks and building societies often have 2 factor authentication. This adds an extra layer of security, such as being sent a text if someone tries to login to your account. 
  4. Use antivirus software - Make sure you have anti-virus software on your computer and then keep it updated.
  5. Click links with caution - Even those shared by a friend. If the post doesn’t sound like them or it’s out of character to share that kind of thing – avoid it. 
  6. Log off when you’re done - Get into the habit of logging out between visits.
  7. Avoid quizzes and games - Any that your name or email address may be used to build spam lists and send you phishing emails.
The content on this page is for reference and does not constitute financial advice.
For impartial financial advice, try MoneyHelper.