Don't let the internet fraudsters and 'phishers' come angling for your usernames, passwords or credit card details.

There are some emails that you should view with deep suspicion. These include any mail that asks you to type in your password in order to have continued access to your bank account or other online payment site. It may look genuine – right down to the company logo – but in fact your bank would never ask you to do this. This is a scam known as 'phishing': the email is the bait and you are the catch. By clicking on the link and supplying the information requested, you are handing your details to fraudsters.

You might also receive a email telling you that you've won the Dutch lottery, or that you have inherited a small fortune from a millionaire relative you have never heard of. You know what? You haven't. The hoaxers are just hoping that you will be foolish enough to give them access to your bank account (so that the imaginary money can be transferred to your account straight away).

Here are three steps to avoiding the hoaxes.

  1. DON'T PROVIDE personal or financial information to a website that you opened by clicking on a link in an email.
  2. IGNORE emails from companies that you have never heard of.
  3. NEVER GIVE your password, bank or other financial details or any private information to a website that you have accessed via an email link – it just isn't safe. Instead, type in the URL and log in as usual. Send a copy of the email to the company to alert them.

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