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Use of the Internet and email is something that is taken for granted these days. Lured into a false sense of security, users often forget that they are not dealing face to face with the other party – they believe what they see is true without reservation or caution.

Always question who you are dealing with and remain objective.

Most Internet users are aware of bogus emails. These are requests to supply security information and attempt to get bank and other personal data.

  • Never open or reply to an email that may be bogus.
  • Use options to block ‘spam’ emails attachments and pictures.
  • Links in emails often take the user to a bogus website. The user may then be passed to a genuine site having entered their personal information on the bogus site.
  • Always check the web address and don’t rely on links within emails.
  • If you suspect that an email is bogus, never open a link within it as this may download a virus.

Targeted attacks are made against individual personal computers.

There are many things that can be done to protect the computer.

  • Use a full security program suite, firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc.
  • Always keep your software up to date using automatic updates.
  • Use a computer clean up system to help remove pesky start-up items, removing temporary files, and uninstalling old, unused applications.
  • Backup your systems regularly, consider using an online instant backup facility.
  • Secure your wireless network from unwanted users.
  • There are many sources of advice. Get Safe Online is an impartial site.

Buying online.

When buying online, there are several types of websites which you may deal with.

  • Advertising sites introduce a buyer to a seller.
  • Auction sites require the sellers and buyers to set up a profile.
  • Corporate sites are operated by companies that may also have retails outlets.

The level of protection for consumers varies from site to site.

  • Advertising and auction sites introduce buyers and sellers; they do not supply the goods.
  • Feedback is often exaggerated and may be manipulated in order to commit fraud.
  • Fraudulent adverts and web sites can be very sophisticated, make checks using internet searches.

Principal Risks.

Whilst the vast majority of persons buying and selling online are honest and will deliver, or pay, for goods as they should, both parties should take steps to ensure that they are happy with each other and the goods being supplied. The following are examples of the most common fraudulent adverts.

  • Concert and event tickets. Sales that are not through the original promoter or an authorised seller are popular with fraudsters. The chance to buy a ticket at a reduced price, late availability or a ticket for that special event will tempt the unwary.
  • Flat lettings, residential lettings or holiday lettings. These can cause a considerable amount of financial loss and inconvenience. Please see our section on Holiday rentals, Home and property purchase and property take-over fraud.
  • Vehicles for sale. That are not in possession of the advertiser and money is sent without the buyer seeing the vehicle or meeting the seller. Please see our section on Vehicle buying and selling advice.
  • Dating and romance frauds. Please see our section on Social Networking - Online Dating and "Honey Traps"

Fraudulent adverts and websites can be very sophisticated, make checks before you send the money.

What you see advertised may be a genuine article - ticket, car, flat, villa.

  • A genuine advert may have been copied and actually be for sale. The genuine seller may be impersonated by the fraudster.
  • Establishing the ticket is genuine may be difficult, and may be rejected at the turnstile.
  • The car may pass any vehicle status checks.
  • The flat or villa may be there - but when you arrive, it’s somebody else’s.

Corporate sites may have been copied, cloned, re-directed or completely fake.

Check and Challenge the Information

  • Does everything make sense?
  • How long has the site been in existence?
  • Use internet searches to check the company, or tickets. Add the Word ‘Scam’ or Fraud’ to the search criteria may find complaints about bogus adverts.

‘Phishing’ and other e-mails asking for personal details.

Never reply to these emails - you will be put on a ‘suckers’ list.

  • If you have received a ‘phishing’ email, text, letter or scam communication by any other method and have not lost money or clicked on any website links contained in the message, you can report this online to Action Fraud at ‘Report Attempted Scams or Viruses’

You may also wish to report these emails to the following organisations - see related links on this webpage;

  • Send all banking related ‘phishing’ emails to Bank Safe Online
  • PayPal or eBay related issues should be sent to phising@paypal or spoof@ebay
  • Yahoo emails complaints
  • Hotmail complaints email
  • AOL complaints email
  • If the email address is from any other address contact '' and they will find out the relevant email provider and pass the complaint on.

Advance Fee Fraud Paying money for a promise of wealth (419 Fraud) wealth, wills, gifts, prizes or employment.

  • Criminal Cash-Back, Cheque/Draft Overpayments, Shipping and Escrow frauds
  • High Yield Investments, Share and other Investment Frauds
  • Identity Fraud - is someone using your identity?
  • Lotteries, prizes, awards, miracle cures, clairvoyants and other scams. - Mass Market Fraud
  • Money Transfer – Advice when sending money to somebody you don’t know
  • Vehicle buying and selling advice
  • Working from home scams/financial intermediaries – Money Mules