How can I avoid being scammed?

Picture this: You’ve just received an email claiming you’ve won a dream vacation or a massive cash prize. Sounds amazing, right? Well, hold onto your wallet because it’s probably a scam!

Financial scams and fraud are everywhere, especially online, and young people in the UK are prime targets. But fear not, we’ve got your back. In this guide, we’ll arm you with three essential tips to stay one step ahead of those crafty scammers.

If you think you have already been a victim of a scam, read our article on what steps to take.

Three top tips

Beware of phishing attempts

Imagine you're fishing but you're not the fisher, you're the fish! That's exactly what scammers do with phishing attempts. They send you fake emails, text messages, or even phone calls pretending to be from legitimate organisations to try and hook you in. Don't take the bait! Check email addresses, don't click suspicious links and stay sceptical!

  • Check the sender’s email address: Scammers often use email addresses that look similar to the real deal but have subtle differences. For instance, “” is not your bank! Always double-check the sender’s email address, especially if the message asks for personal or financial information. 
  • Don’t click suspicious links: If an email or message contains a link that seems off, don’t click it! Hover your mouse over the link to see where it leads. Legitimate companies will never ask you to log in or provide personal information through an email link. 
  • Stay skeptical: Scammers play on emotions. They may create urgency by saying you’ve won a prize, your account is in danger, or you owe money. Take a deep breath, think it through, and verify the information independently. Call your bank or the company directly using official contact details. 

Secure your personal information

Think of your personal information as your most valuable possession, like the keys to your house. Guard it fiercely to avoid falling victim to identity theft or fraud. Use strong passwords, don't share personal information that could be used to identify you, any consider extra layers of security like mobile verification for your online accounts.

  • Use strong, unique passwords: Don’t use “123456” or “password” as your password; those are like leaving your front door wide open! Create strong, unique passwords for each online account. Consider using a password manager to keep track of them. 
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA): Think of 2FA as an extra lock on your front door. It adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to enter a code sent to your phone or email after entering your password. 
  • Be cautious with personal information: Don’t share sensitive data, like your National Insurance number, with anyone unless you’re sure it’s legitimate. Be especially careful when shopping online or signing up for services. 

Educate yourself and others

Knowledge is power, and the more you know about common scams, the better you can protect yourself and your friends. Stay informed, talk to your friends and family to help spread the word, and report suspected scams.

  • Stay informed: Keep up to date with the latest scams circulating in the UK. Scammers constantly adapt their tactics, so knowing what to look out for is crucial. 
  • Talk to friends and family: Share your knowledge about scams with others. Discussing it openly can help prevent them from falling victim to fraud too. 
  • Report suspicious activity: If you suspect a scam, report it to the authorities. In the UK, you can report scams to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting center. 

Remember, you’re not alone in this battle against financial scams. By staying vigilant, protecting your personal information, and educating yourself and those around you, you can keep your finances safe and sound. Don’t let the scammers reel you in; stay sharp and stay safe! 

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