Cybercriminals know that you are a much easier target than your computer or phone, which is why the number of so-called phishing emails (and text messages) have soared recently.

But where in the past scammers wouldn’t put much effort into correct grammar, punctuation and even proper English, modern phishing emails are a lot more convincing. They still tend to contain the tell-tale typos and not-quite-right logos and graphics, but they’re certainly a lot harder to spot now than before.

Scammers also play on your fears to con you into tapping or clicking on links, and they’ve been quick to exploit coronavirus with plenty of COVID-19 messages such as this one:

Brits can't reliably detect phishing emails & texts

Computer Disposals put together a series of 10 example emails and text messages - containing a variety of genuine and fake ones from companies such as Netflix, Amazon and Uber – to test whether the British public can detect a phishing scam or not.

Of the thousand people who took the test, only five percent managed to correctly identify all 10 as either fake or real, and almost half mistook the phishing texts for genuine messages.

You can take the test yourself and find out if you can tell the real ones apart from the phishing messages - and there's a chance of a prize, too. (Note that fake brand names have been used throughout, so this isn't an indication of an example being fraudulent.)

Brits can't reliably detect phishing emails & texts

Clearly more needs to be done to educate the public about these scams, but our advice remains the same: don’t click on a link in an email or text message unless you are absolutely sure it’s from a genuine sender. (Also check out these tips on how to verify a link is safe before clicking on it.)

If a communication tells you your account has been blocked, needs some action or you’re due a rebate or refund, always type in the firm’s website address manually in your web browser to ensure you’re visiting the real website. 

Just recently, a new text scam which pretends to be from the HMRC has duped hundreds of people into visiting a fake Government website and entering their HRMC login details following the promise of a tax refund. And there are similar emails which claim to be from local councils.

If in doubt, contact your council or phone HMRC to check if you really are eligible.

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