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How to spot a scam?

The European Consumer Centre says there are seven things to look out for:

> If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

> You have won a prize but never entered a draw

> You are asked for money up front to release your 'win'

> You are asked for your bank account, credit card details or other confidential information

> The caller is more excited than you

> The stranger who phones wants to be your best friend

> You are told you must reply straight away or the money will be given to someone else.

What to do if you're in any doubt about a suspicious email message. The National Consumer Agency says:

> Use the phone rather than email to contact the relevant organisation (your bank, ISP, etc) at their official number in the phone book, and ask what's going on

> If this is a case of phishing, alert the gardai too

> Forward the message to the remitting internet service provider's abuse address (for example, if the email comes from a Hotmail account, you should contact abuse@hotmail.com)

> Use up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software to keep unwanted or malicious software at bay

> Go to the real site and change your password.


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