Do you ever feel like something’s too good to be true? Sometimes it is. And unfortunately, good people out there sometimes fall victim to scams. Have no fear – Scambusters is here!

Password protected

We all know how annoying it is to have to think of a password for absolutely everything we do online. But these things keep us safe, right? Sadly, that’s not always the case. Even if you think you’ve got the most secure password going (because no one’s going to guess your first car’s number plate and your hamster’s birthday, right?), there are still some clever folks out there that know how to get hold of it.

Now it’s nothing new to advise changing your password regularly so that if this happens your accounts are safe. But did you know that scammers are now using people’s passwords as bribery?

It starts with an email that usually opens with something like: “I’m aware that xyz is your password. However I’m more aware of your secret.”

The password will be your real password – or at least one you’ve used in the past. The scammers do this to scare you, and make you believe them that they’ve got something on you.

It then going on to read that unless you pay them a certain amount of money, they’ll release private information about you. Now, because they know your password, it’s easy to think that they really are out to get you. But it’s all a lie – they don’t know anything and they’re not going to ruin your life. The only way they could do that is if you actually did pay them!

So what do you do if you receive one of these? The most important thing is to note the password they’ve quoted and immediately change the passwords of anything that uses it. Don’t panic, and absolutely do not pay them any money!

Bid down

Sometimes, shops close down. And for brief periods of time, they become pop-up shops. For example, you might spot the old Phones 4 U down your street has transformed into a little “I love York” tourist store.

And sometimes, these locations are rented out for even briefer periods of time, to launch a new product or brand. Promoters are dressed up smartly, giving away goodies and running a little auction on the street to get some high end products for cheap as part of the promotional event.

Or are they?

You’ll mainly find these in hot tourist spots, such as London, or abroad, but they can, on theory, happen anywhere. Stooges who are in on it will kick it off and attract the innocent crowds by bidding for a product – say, a 50” TV – and ‘win’ the bid at a ridiculously low amount, such as £50. They’ll then be given the TV in front of your eyes. But of course, they’re in on it.

Now you’ve seen that it works, why wouldn’t you get involved? It’s a steal! Well, that’s exactly what these people are doing – stealing your money. That iPhone X you just won for £100 might have felt like a bargain, but it’s actually an empty box filled with something of the same weight.

Generally, pop-up street auctions should probably be avoided. But, if you think it’s genuine, then make sure you thoroughly check the item before you hand over your hard-earned cash.


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