How to avoid scams

It’s not just the gullible falling for scams because they’re slicker and more convincing than ever. We show you how to avoid the most common of scams.

These days, scams come in all shapes and sizes and can get the better of even the most savvy of us. According to the OFT, 3 million consumers in the UK are hit by scams every year - but how do you avoid them?

There are many different types of scam, coming at us from all angles. So it's important you know how to spot one to ensure you don't get stung.

The most pervasive scam is the email phishing scam. This is where fraudsters send out bogus emails, pretending to be from your bank or another official organisation. The emails can be quite convincing and will ask you to fill in your bank details.

Another common scam is the homeworking scam. A company will write or email you to offer you the opportunity to work from home, often paying a lot of money for not much work. While it might sound appealing to make hundreds of pounds in your lunch break, if it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

Other scams can include prize draws you've supposedly won, emails from official people asking for cash advances and letters telling you to call premium rate phone numbers for a prize.

Plenty of people recognise them, but you need to be able to avoid them.

Trust your gut instinct. If you get a letter saying you've won a prize draw but you didn't enter one, it's not genuine. It pays to be sceptical.

Always check the spelling of any emails or letters. An official letter would be correctly written, be on your guard if you spot any spelling mistakes.

Never send off any money for your 'free' gift. If you have a won a prize, you shouldn't have to pay for anything – it's hardly a prize then, is it?

Often an email will direct you to a website. If you hover the mouse over the link and it's a completely different address to the website it purports to be, it's probably a scam.

Never, ever give out your bank details or password information in response to an email. Banks will never ask you for this information, so don't be swayed if you get an email telling you your account is at risk. Your bank would send you a letter or phone if this were the case.

Check your credit report regularly through websites such as and to see if your name has been used fraudulently. 

Anti-virus and anti-spy software can go some way to protecting your computer against these types of email scams, so if you're worried, invest for your peace of mind.