Fraud Awareness Week: How to spot a scam

Ryan Boyd
Fraud Awareness Week: How to spot a scam

Scams can range from the stupidly obvious to actually quite clever. As part of International Fraud Awareness Week, here are a few tips to help you spot potentially dangerous scams online.


The source is ambiguous

Scammers will often use email address and website URLs that may at a glance look legitimate, but on closer inspection are a bit off.

Look at email addresses and URLs they provide. Instead of, a scam email address may be something like

If it doesn’t quite look right, it probably isn’t.


They ask for personal information (or even money)

No legitimate company in the world will ever contact you, whether by phone, email, or even a knock on the door, to ask you for personal information, including passwords and bank account numbers.

If you’re unsure, call the company’s customer support number directly to check.


They want to give you something for nothing

As sad as it may be to admit, very few strangers want to give you loads of money simply out of the goodness of their hearts.

These promises of wealth will likely require you to send through your bank account number or a deposit of some kind, after which you can expect your balance to go down, not up.


They contact you out of the blue

If you never asked to be contacted by a company that has contacted you, chances are they are not legitimate.

If you are being contacted by someone you don’t know offering you something, alarm bells should be ringing.


If unsure, Google it

Most likely you will not be the first target of a scam, so do a quick search to see if there are other people warning against it.

Using terms from the scam (will depend on the type of scam, but for example the company name, the person’s name, the email subject line, etc.) search on Google if there is a history of the scam.

For romance scams and others that use images, download the image (right click > Save image as…), then upload to Google Images. This will show you what websites the photo is being used on, including those reporting it as a scam.

If you can’t find anything but are still unsure, independent watchdog NetSafe can advise.


Remember: Prevention is better than cure

  •     Never write down or give your PIN number or online banking credentials to anyone
  •     Regularly check your account balances
  •     Never click on an email links from an unknown sender

Be aware that there are plenty more types of online scams out there, so to ensure you know the enemy, check out independent watchdog NetSafe.

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