So you’ve just started uni and the student loan is rolling in. Maybe you just got a part-time job and are finally making some hard earned cash. Maybe you’ve landed an apprenticeship and are now in control of your own money for the first time.
Becoming financially independent is a pretty incredible feeling, but it also comes with some downsides. Namely, there are some pretty nasty people out there looking to take your cash from you.
In the digital world we live in, email scams have become commonplace and they’re not always as easy to spot as you might think.
A few methods advanced scammers use to trick people include:
Remember, if something seems shady then it probably is.
Even if the email looks pretty legitimate but it’s unexpected and the content makes you a little nervous, take a breath and think before clicking any links or calling any numbers in the content.
You don’t want to be signing away your soul to receive your $99,999.99 tax refund. (We wish.)
Look out for the warning signs. The emailer not using your name is a big one – think ‘Dear Valued Customer’, or ‘Dear <email address>’ or a generic ‘Hello…’. Asking you to provide any sort of details (banking, personal, account or login info) is another huge red flag.
If you’re worried or unsure, the safest thing to do is to go online, find real contact details and get in touch with the company “emailing” you directly. If it’s nothing to do with them, panic over. Email deleted, sender blocked. Happy days.
You’re not wasting anyone’s time, either – companies are always grateful to know if there’s a scam going round with their name on it.
A popular scam of this type is from HMRC, saying you’re entitled to huge tax refunds if you act quickly. Unlikely. HMRC won’t ever email you about tax returns, so don’t click any links in the email if you end up with one.
To crack down on these, you can forward anything suspicious to HMRC directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and they’ll take care of the rest.
Work part-time and think you might be due some money back from the tax man? Chances are you’ll have to chase them for it rather than the other way around, so get in touch with them via the legitimate contact info on their website. Don’t fall for a scam.
No matter how trustworthy an email might look, remember never to follow the contact details or links in the mailing.
It takes seconds to find the proper site on the search engine of your choice. Here’s where you can access the real contact info to check your bank account hasn’t been emptied, your student loan hasn’t been blown on a gold-leaf baby grand purchase from Amazon, or that you haven’t bought an eternal subscription to a weight loss app on the App Store.
LUCY HARDING is the Editorial manager for Push. She is an English Literature grad and an MA Publishing student at UCL. She is passionate about international relations and cultural diversity, having worked closely with her university’s Erasmus society to support European students. She also spent a year abroad studying at California State University: Long Beach
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