Scots have been warned to be vigilant as online scammers prepare to target millions of people, according to a report by police, security and banking experts.
Fraudsters are focusing on holidays, tickets for major sporting and music events and unsolicited emails to catch out unsuspecting web users, according to Police Scotland, the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The three organisations have released a new advice guide called the Little Book of Big Scams to help Scots avoid being hit by the latest swindles.
It warns about the 19 common scams to look out for and gives Scots practical guidance on how to spot them and what to do if you or someone you know falls victim to one.
It comes as online fraud and scams in Scotland soar, with an increase of 69% since 2011/12, statistics from the Scottish Government show.
Assistant chief constable Gary Richie, Police Scotland, said: “New scams are constantly emerging, so it is no wonder that we see businesses and individuals fall into a trap.
“Prevention and education are key, so this guide is packed full of practical advice.
“The impact can be emotional as well as financial, so I urge everyone to download and share the guide with family and friends, so they know what to do and who to call on if they become a victim of fraud this summer.”
The top three scams come as people look to book breaks away or events following the coronavirus lockdowns.
Online scammers are exploiting the summer pressures facing the travel industry, coupled with the desire for Scots to seek a sunshine break.
The advice book will help people recognise how to spot offers that are too good to be true and avoid travel services that do not exist, experts said.
The guide also urges those seeking tickets to sports and music events to buy from official promoters as swindlers look to capitalise on a range of big events over the summer months.
Judy McCorry, chief executive of the SBRC, said: “The travel and tourism sectors are still recovering from the pandemic, evidenced by what we have seen recently with delays and cancellations due to staffing issues.
“Scammers seek to take advantage of would-be travellers who have been left high and dry and are seeking fast solutions.
“This guide gives people the tools to tackle these scammers head on and so lead to fewer fraud victims.”
Judith Cruickshank, regional managing director at Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “The research showed that scams are becoming much more prevalent, but many of us think we are savvy when it comes to online fraud.
“However scammers are using increasingly sophisticated measures to trick unsuspecting people.
“The Royal Bank of Scotland is dedicated to keeping customers’ money secure and offering people the support they need to help make themselves safer.
“By working together, we can help tackle online scams. The Little Book of Big Scams provides expert guidance on financial protection, identifying risks and finding solutions so that everyone is better prepared.”
Those who suspect they have fallen victim to a scam should contact their bank immediately on an official phone number.
The guide, which is available to download on the SBRC’s website, also covers online and cash point fraud, door-to-door scams, and romance and dating fraud.