Are you at risk of being scammed?

7 April 2011

Marks & Spencer online customers could be at security risk, following the company's admission of a security breach.

The high-street brand sent out emails to its online customers yesterday informing them that their names and email addresses had been accessed by hackers and they could now see a rise in spam emails.

American company Epsilon, who handle the online security system for M&S, was targeted leading to the security failure. But M&S has stressed that only names and email addresses were accessed and not account or financial details.

A Marks and Spencers spokesperson says: "There could be an increase in spam emails as a result and we are advising customers to be extra vigilant online. A very small number of customers have contacted us but we have not seen a rise in customers receiving spam email yet."

Rise in online theft

There has been a rise in online theft activity recently with and TripAdvisor also falling victim to similar scams.

As a result of this increased activity, experts are warning one-off betters on the Grand National this weekend to be extra vigilant about spam emails and web addresses.

According to Consumer Direct, three million UK adults fall victim to mass marketing scams every year - losing on average £850. The website has created a survey which tells you how likely you are to be scammed. There are four short tests on its 'Threat test' to complete, and you can find out how susceptible you are to being scammed in four sectors; counterfeit goods, phishing, social-networking and malware (software that can take over your computer).
Peter Wood, security expert at, says online betting sites are not used by the majority of the population until a popular race, such as the Grand National, takes place.

"These fake sites are operating in the belief that most of these people won't have undertaken much research before placing a bet. They make much of their money on their ability to look like legitimate and well-known betting sites, when in fact they are fake and will not pay out if your horse does come in. In the worst case scenarios, you could become a victim of identity theft," he adds.

If you're worried about being scammed, read our guide to beating online fraud.

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