Online shopping and finance scams

Online scams can include phishing websites and other forms of online information theft.

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How to avoid online scams

  • install antivirus software and keep it updated
  • turn on your firewalls
  • look for the green padlock in your browser's URL bar. Genuine websites use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt data transmission and their web URL begins with https://
  • change your passwords frequently and use a new password for each account
  • when using public wi-fi, do not select from the list available, ask a member of staff the exact name of the connection
  • government services including car tax, provisional driving license, passport renewal, European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and Blue Badge renewal can all be found on the official government website - ensure when searching for these services online that you go via this site (beginning with
  • if you think your email or password has been compromised, clean your computer with antivirus and change your password immediately
  • don't make your email address public on different websites.

Phishing websites

Phishing websites look like legitimate sites that are designed to trick you into giving personal and financial information, pay for a service you could get cheaper or for free or buy counterfeit goods you thought were genuine.

Spot a phishing website:

  • check the website's URL. Phishing websites usually have the URL slightly different from the genuine website
  • look for spelling and punctuation errors. Often English is not the first language of the scammers and they might miss some errors when they proofread
  • examine images and logos. Look carefully, as they might be distorted and have poor image quality.
  • be wary of pop-ups. If you navigate to a website and a pop-up shows up asking you for username and password, shut the pop-up and leave the website.

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