How to stay safe online

As our devices get more and more intelligent, so do the ways scammers try and abuse them to get a hold of our information.

Remain vigilant and follow our advice to stay safe online. Here’s what you should keep your eye out for…

What are the main scams you’ll find online?


Your common, garden variety junk mail. After obtaining email addresses, spammers bulk send offers, coupons, donation solicitations or unwanted newsletters. Spam is usually commercial in nature and not expressly malicious.


Phishing is designed to obtain sensitive information from an individual. These emails often look legitimate at first glance and ask for things like banking credentials, passwords, cash advances.

Spear phishing

Spear phishing is similar to the above, except the email may use a victim’s personal information, such as a name, address or an old password, to appear more trustworthy.


This is a phishing cybersecurity attack carried out via SMS. It may also be known as SMS phishing. A link in one of these texts may either trick you into downloading malware or take you to a malicious website.


Some of the emails or texts you receive may be so well disguised, they appear to be a direct replica of a trusted business. Delivery companies, such as DPD and Royal Mail are often spoofed, with scammers trying to charge redelivery fees.


Pharming works by redirecting people trying to access a legitimate website to a spoofed site, though which they can obtain sensitive information.

What should you watch out for?

  • Poor spelling, grammar and punctuation.

  • The communication may be vaguely addressed.

  • Does the message contain a threat or is it trying to hurry you? E.G. Send details within 24 hours.

  • When it comes to offers and deals, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

  • Messages from a bank will never ask for a PIN, password or send you to a site you don’t usually use.

  • Check the senders’ email. Often an email proclaiming to be from HSBC will be sent from a personal email (

  • If it is an SMS, most organisations protect their Sender ID, so texts messages should be from ‘HSBC’ or ‘Royal Mail’, not from a number.

If in doubt, don’t give away any info, follow any links or reply to the message. You can do a quick Google search to see if any other people have asked similar questions about the communications.

And if that doesn’t reassure you, contact the company the message is proclaiming to be from, on their official email/phone and ask them to confirm.

Recent scams to watch out for


Tax rebate scams are a common way for fraudsters to try and get their hands on your banking information.

Missed parcel

Increasing common during and post lockdown. You may receive a text telling you to pay a redelivery fee, or a get a link to ‘parcel tracking’ which installs a spyware on your phone.


A text has circulated telling people they’re eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. With a link to get more information and ‘apply’.

What to do if you’re concerned

If you want to check if something is a scam or report it, visit Citizens Advice to try out their ‘Online scams helper’.

Stay safe. Team SMARTY

  • SMARTY Team
  • November 5th, 2021