Scam Watch - the 'prize draw' scam
In the last few months several readers have contacted us after receiving emails telling them they had won a prize draw and asking for personal details in order for the winnings to be released.
Emails of this sort typically mention large, well-known brands such as the BBC, the National Lottery and BMW.
These phishing emails work by enticing the reader into giving away personal details with tempting rewards, for example a large cash prize, holiday or car. But by giving away this information you are arming someone else with the tools to access your bank accounts.
Moneywise reader, Terry Silverwood, forwarded an email to us telling him he had won a brand new BMW car.
It said: "The board of directors, members and staff of the International Awareness Promotion Department of the BMW Automobile Company in collaboration with eBay, wishes to congratulate you on your success as the star prize winner of this year's BMW Automobile International Awareness Promotion (IAP) held today in Madrid, Spain."
The email went on to detail the prize - a brand new BMW 5 Series 550i sports car and £45,000 in cash - and then asked for personal details including Terry's full name, address, telephone number, job and age to be sent to an email address.
Have you been scammed? Let the Moneywise Scam Watch team know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
"Fraudsters are increasingly focusing on website and email scams to harvest their victims' identities. The personal information they often trick you into revealing can help them piece together your identity jigsaw," says James Jones, spokesperson for Experian.
"While the credit industry spends millions of pounds preventing fraud each year, meaning that most dodgy applications are detected, the ones that slip through the net can create a major headache for the people involved," he adds.
Phishing scams are typically fraudulent email messages from seemingly legitimate sources (your internet service provider, mobile phone provider, bank etc). These messages usually direct you to a counterfeit website or ask you to divulge private information (password, PIN, credit card numbers, or other account updates), which is then used to commit identity theft.