The universal internet creates marvelous opportunities for connecting with each other, but leave us open to theft and abuse like leaving the front door open!

Responsible websites work hard to keep us safe, but fictional crime on TV shows doors opened by sliding a credit card across the lock. Even fictional Fr Brown has the skill to pick locks, but only for ethical reasons! We are all vulnerable.

Citizens Advice ran their National Scams Awareness Campaign in early July. People in the UK lost £1.2 billion to fraud last year, which is the equivalent of £2,300 every minute! The advice from Devon County Council tells us that a suspicious email can be forwarded to, a suspicious phone call to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or a suspicious text forwarded for free to 7726.

My favourite scam is an unwanted call which starts with a request to press '9' to stop unwanted calls … which it is! My second favourite says money may have been sent spuriously to Amazon plus a fraudulent international transfer, but always the same message which they don't bother to update! Obviously they hope to be told the real details of accounts. Sometimes I keep them chatting to stop them bothering anyone else, but never confirm my name or any other details. Returning the incoming call usually reveals their number was false!

Many years ago some students thought it would be fun to dig up a street. They obtained traffic cones and started digging. Before long, the police were directing traffic around! There was outcry when this was discovered to be a prank. Later, some other students warned a beat constable that their friends were again at work. Except this time, it was genuine road works!

Scams and practical jokes are not new, but the internet now offers a massive opportunity for deceit, especially against those not fluent with how it works. Worse still, our present world seems ready to steal, cheat and blackmail from even the most desperate and vulnerable.

To keep safe, never give any personal details to an incoming call or email, especially bank or financial information. The more detail scammers know, the more convincing they can sound if they pretend later to be a bank or close contact. One recent email appeared to be from TV licencing requesting my current TV licence number, which I did not give! I assume a follow-up email would use that number to appear valid while seeking payment to a fraudulent account.

The internet has no borders, so a scam to steal money may be originating from Russia, China or the Isle of Wight, creating an immense problem for the law to track down culprits. Reports indicate that many fraudulent cash scams originate in Russia and North Korea.

New computers have better safeguards, but there is an ongoing race between scammers and programmers. Sometimes it is the rats who win a rat race! Selfishness and theft have always been problems. Nowadays the internet creates an international arena beyond national laws while the world lacks effective global law enforcement.

Stopping to think and pondering slowly avoids complex traps. Being trusted is invaluable, but being too trusting can be dangerous. Remember the old saying "you will only be cheated by someone you once trusted"!

Never believe incoming requests; a friend's voice being cloned is no longer science fiction!