Avoiding Scams: Don’t Take the Bait

Phishing, Scams, Vishing

By Craig Sterriker

Scammers have always been on the hunt for your personal information and in the modern age of technology, their methods have only become more malicious. Many scammers are highly inventive and will attempt to gain access to your personal information through a number of different tactics – mainly through phishing which is a hacker’s term based on fishing and using bait and lures to ‘fish’ for your personal and financial data.

However, there are warning signs you can look out for to recognise and avoid falling victim to their attacks.

Listed below are a few of the most common approaches, as well as the warning signs to look out for when identifying a scam.

Email Phishing

Email phishing is a tactic commonly used by scammers. They will pose as a representative of a legitimate business or enterprise and attempt to obtain your personal or financial information.

In most cases, a phishing scammer will try and create a sense of fear in order to get a quick response from you. In some instances, scammers will posture themselves as being an important, high-profile individual from the organisation they claim to be representing, in order to lure you into responding.

Warning Signs
  • The sender’s email address – if the email does not exactly match the assumed source, it’s a scam.
  • Suspicious links that you are encouraged to click on. Never click on a link unless you’re confident in the authenticity of the sender. These links could collect your personal data or spread harmful malware.
  • Grammatical errors in the emails body of text could indicate a scam.

Telephone Vishing

Vishing is another common method used by scammers. The name “Vishing” is a combination of “voice” and “phishing”. These scammers will approach you in pursuit of your personal data via telephone.

Vishing has become progressively more common, with scammers utilising specialised telephone networks that enable them to place hundreds of calls at once. This allows them to cast a wide net in their search for private information. They are also able to alter their caller ID to make it appear as if it comes from a trusted source, hooking you into believing their lies.

The imposter may inform you that your account has been hacked, posing as a trusted source in order to send you unsafe software.

Warning Signs
  • The caller speaking quickly and persuasively in an attempt to create a sense of urgency
  • Any unsolicited voicemails from calls you were not expecting, especially if you have not initiated any contact with the organisation the attacker is acting as. If the caller gives a call back number, always verify the source’s legitimacy by contacting the organisation directly.
  • Calls from numbers you don’t recognise


Whaling is a form of phishing scam that targets big fish (high profile individuals) within an organisation. These scams are often more difficult to identify than other phishing scams and the perpetrators often put more effort into not being detected.

Fraudsters will aim to manipulate targets into revealing information relating to bank accounts, customers and company personnel. They may also attempt to intercept private communications between high profile individuals in order to gain access to confidential information, such as details relating to bank transfers.

Warning Signs
  • Inaccuracies in the sender’s email address that differentiate it from the company/individual they are posing as, e.g. replacing the letter “m” in an email address with a combination of two letters such as “r” and “n”
  • Asking for sensitive information to be shared or demands to transfer money to a specific account
  • A sense of urgency, similar to the aforementioned scams

Doorstep Scams

Doorstep scams are fairly self-explanatory. Scammers will physically arrive at your home and make efforts to enter or trick you into parting with your money. In the modern age, doorstep scams are less common than those mentioned above, but they do still happen. In some instances, A scammer may arrive at your door and pose as an official from an insurance company, in order to get your personal and payment information.

Warning Signs
  • Unsolicited visits from individuals posturing themselves as representing a legitimate organisation
  • The unwillingness of said individuals when asked to provide their ID. Remember, a legitimate contractor will always verify themselves when asked to do so.

Good Practices

Now that you’re aware of the various techniques scammers will use to gain access to your important information, there are several things you should remember in order to keep yourself safe.

  • Never give out any sensitive information, such as passwords and bank details to an unverified source. Reputable organisations will never request these details via phone or email.
  • Always choose strong passwords and keep them secure.
  • If a scammer approaches you under the aforementioned circumstances, they will often try to pressure you to pay immediately and in a specific way. Legitimate organisations will never do this. Do not give in to their attempts.
  • Never click on any suspicious links sent via email, and always check the text for spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Always verify the identity of the individual who has contacted you, no matter the circumstances. Personnel from legitimate organisations will have no issues with disclosing this information

Genistar and Vitality

Genistar will always refer you to legitimate, trustworthy organisations. Unfortunately, there have been an influx of calls from scammers posing as Vitality representatives of late. Even if the caller may know the details of your policy, it could still be a scam.

Remember – Vitality will never call you to offer better terms or other products. If you get a call from someone about changing your Vitality cover, please take down their name, phone number and the company they work for, and report it to one of the below:

  • Your Genistar representative
  • Genistar’s Field Support Centre on 0203 372 5085

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