The popularity of booking tickets, getting student discounts from restaurants or buying course books, paying for various services and subscriptions online, makes it easier for fraudsters to advertise fake products or services that may never arrive once you have paid.
General tips when purchasing:
- Take care to research a private seller or even a legitimate-looking brand, for example, by reviewing other customers’ feedback.
- Never open a link in an unexpected email.
- Check URLs or email addresses of unsolicited emails, including the spelling, to make sure they are genuine.
- Insist on viewing high-value items such as vehicles, in person before paying.
- Use secure payment methods rather than direct bank transfers.
Scammers use subscription services to target consumers and steal personal information.
- TV Licensing scams: Fake emails and texts claiming that you are eligible for six-month free TV licence due to the Coronavirus pandemic or that there are problems with your direct debit.
- Streaming services: Fake emails asking you to log into your account and update your payment details using a link they have provided.
For both these scams, the links given in the emails or texts will take you to a fake website used to gather your personal and financial information. If you are unsure, do not use the link and instead access your account yourself using their website.
Netflix is a service for which scam emails are common. For guidance on recognising them, check their guidance at Phishing or suspicious emails or texts claiming to be from Netflix.
Tips to help you avoid these types of scams:
- All legitimate emails from services you have an account with, such as your mobile provider, or your bank, will always address you by your name.
- Avoid opening emails which start with ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Customer’ as this is likely to be a phishing email.
- Poor spelling and grammar can often be a big giveaway for scam emails and letters.
- Do not open any suspicious attachments.
- Scam emails often try to impose a sense of urgency to scare victims into acting rashly. Do not feel intimated to handover personal information. Take some time to verify the legitimacy of the source.
There’s further guidance and tips about a wide range of scams from these resources:
As we are more reliant on using the internet to shop for food and other essentials, it’s worth being mindful of some of the methods used by scammers, to trick you into giving over your personal or financial information.
Tips to help you avoid these types of scams:
- Watch out for fake website addresses designed to trick you into giving away personal details such as your date of birth or your address.
- Be sure to check if the website you are visiting has a padlock next to the URL and starts with https://. Take a look at the guidance from Which? on How to spot a fake or fraudulent website.
- Beware of PPE purchasing; there are lots of reported fake PPE sites – parcel never arrives or boxes are empty. Alternatively, you could end up buying counterfeit PPE that is not effective and unsafe. Ultimately, you’re best not to attempt to buy ‘PPE’ for personal use, but rather opt for a ‘face covering’ which can be bought from lots of shops, both physical and online.
- Don’t pay in vouchers, ideally use a credit card.
- Know that if a deal is too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Beware of new/unknown companies: If you are planning to buy from a company you have never shopped with before, take a moment to do a quick google search about the company and see if there are any customer reviews or complaints. This is particularly advisable for products you buy through social media.
Watch out: ‘Win your food shop’ scams
Lots of ‘win your food shop’ scams are appearing on social media; scammers are playing on the idea that people are struggling financially due to the pandemic and are more likely to enter.
The link will take you to a fake site where you will be asked for your supermarket log-in details, which they will then use to obtain further financial information about you. Tesco, Morrisons and Asda customers have all been targeted.
Tickets to various shows and concerts can be very expensive and outside a typical student budget. It can be common to encounter people claiming to sell tickets outside venues. While there might be genuine people selling tickets outside any show or venue, you should avoid purchasing tickets in this way.
If you hand over cash to somebody on the street in return for a product, this transaction is not traceable and it can be hard for you to get your money back.
Equally, you should be wary of where you purchase tickets online. Online ticketing scams to sold-out events are common, and you could end up paying for tickets that never arrive, or told you will be able to collect them at the venue, but they don’t exist.
To avoid getting scammed, only purchase tickets from well-known sources, including ticketing offices and genuine ticket exchange sites.
Tips when buying tickets:
- Only buy tickets from a website domain that starts with https:// rather than http://
- Make sure that the company you are buying tickets from has a registered postal address and contact telephone number.
- Read Action Fraud’s guidance on Ticket scams for tips and guidance on what to look out for.
- If you have a problem with your tickets or want to get refund, check out Which: How do I get a refund from a ticket seller?
Check out our videos about scams
View it here or at King’s Media: Understanding & Avoiding Scams Part 1: What is a Scam?
View it here or at King’s Media: Understanding & Avoiding Scams Part 2: Known Student Scams
Support & information if you’re targeted by a scam or fraud
If you think you have been targeted by a scam or fraud and need information, advice or support, please don’t hesitate to contact the Advice & Guidance team.
We also recommend reading I think I've been targeted by a scam, what should I do?
Please also contact Action Fraud to help prevent this happening to others
Some further resources to help you: