Update your devices
Mr Andrews continued by urging consumers to ensure all their devices are kept up to date.
“First of all, safeguard your devices,” he said.
“As an absolute minimum, you’ll need an up-to-date anti-virus and firewall for your laptop or computer, which will detect fraudulent websites and emails before they can cause harm. Investing in more technical software such as anti-spyware is also recommended, as this will block or remove spy programmes designed to steal your personal data.
“When it comes to using the internet, it’s so important to check whether the site you’re on is legitimate or not. Things such as poorly written language, incorrect URLs and missing or incomplete contact details are key indicators that a site is not trustworthy.”
Mr Andrews went on to highlight the key areas consumers should focus on: “In the past, a simple way of vetting a website was to look for the padlock symbol in the URL bar. However, the more sophisticated scammers have found ways to forge the symbol, so it’s important to carry out other checks before you decide whether a company is trustworthy.
“One easy step to vet a site is to search on Google to find out if the company behind the site has a physical location somewhere in the world. Then, you can go on sites such as Trustpilot to see what people are saying about the company. If there’s no location listed and no reviews on Trustpilot, that’s a major red flag.
“When you’re dealing with a company that specialises in financial services or products, it’s crucial you check their details on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) register.”