What you need to watch for
Published 07/04/2011 | 05:00
1 If you get an email or letter saying you've won the lottery or a free holiday, ask yourself how this is possible if you haven't entered any competition.
You'll be asked to pay various admin fees up front for a 'lottery' win and as for that holiday, it might exist but with stringent restrictions or you'll have to call a premium rate line and pay a fortune to get nothing or a book of discount vouchers.
2 You may need to earn extra money but be very careful because there are plenty of working-at-home scams out there.
You might be asked to assemble products only to return them and be told there is no market for them or your work is defective, so no payment for you.
Worse again, you could be asked to repackage items to send abroad. These are often stolen, so as well as paying for the postage yourself you could be in trouble for handling stolen goods.
3 If you receive a random phone call telling you that your PC is broken, just hang up.
In this scam you could be asked to download a programme to your computer to fix it and who knows what viruses that might contain. Or you're guided through fixing the 'problem' over the phone and then asked for your credit card details for payment. Don't give them. And how does a random stranger know anything about the workings of your computer anyway?
4 Who doesn't want money back from the Revenue or from An Post for overpayment of the TV licence fee.
Even so, don't fall for emails currently doing the rounds purporting to be from either Revenue or An Post.
They ask for banking and account details so they can process your refund. There is no refund and these emails are bogus. Neither Revenue nor An Post would ever contact you in this way.
5 What about your friend from whom you receive an email saying they are stranded in Malaysia or somewhere else exotic, have lost their wallet and need you to send money to them via money transfer?
Your friend isn't in trouble but their email account has been hacked, and you'd be sending money to fraudsters.