Salford Citizens Advice

Top tips for avoiding online scams.

Online shopping, online dating, ordering food and online banking — we’re reliant on being online to do so many things. But this gives scammers more and more opportunities. Here are five top tips to avoid being scammed.

  1. Do you recognise the individual or organisation?

Have you been approached by a company or individual you don’t recognise? Don’t respond unless you can make sure they are who they say they are.

If you do recognise the company, check they’ve contacted you in the normal way. For example, if your bank normally writes to you by post but you’ve received an email from them, it might be someone trying to impersonate them.

  1. Can you confirm their identity?

To confirm their identity, you can start with an internet search about the company. Seeing what others say about a company can help you find out if its legitimate or not. If it’s a registered company — you can search for their details at

If they’re calling from a trusted source, such as a bank, contact your bank directly to confirm their identity. Don’t trust caller ID on phones – this can be hacked.

  1. Have you been asked to hand over money or personal information?

Never give passwords, pins, or financial information to someone you don’t know. Sometimes scammers will ask for seemingly random information such as the name of your primary school, or pet’s name so they can gain access to your account.

You should never send money to someone you don’t know.

  1. It seems too good to be true

‘Get rich quick’ often means ‘lose money fast’. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. This is especially true for products which are ‘must-haves’ and are sold out in major retailers. That new games console may seem like a great deal, but you might end up with no console and out of pocket.

  1. Are you being asked to pay in an unusual way?

You should be cautious when a retailer asks you to pay by an unusual means such as in iTunes vouchers or crypto currency — as these are harder to track and lack vital protections that you get when paying by debit or credit card or by a third-party application such as PayPal. Before you pay by any means, read the Terms and Conditions to make sure you know what you’re paying for.

If you’ve been scammed, or think you’ve been scammed, the Citizens Advice Scams Action service is here to help. You can get advice from a Scams Action adviser (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) on 0808 250 5050 or via webchat.

You can also use our online scams helper to work out if something is a scam and see the next steps to take.

Tom Togher

Citizens Advice Salford

May 2021.