Skip to the main content

What is a Scam?

A scam is a scheme which tries to steal money, personal information or data from a person or organisation. Scammers can target you via post, telephone, email, text message, a website or even a visit to your home. Some examples of scams are:

  • Adverts offering ‘Get Rich Quick’ schemes
  • Phone calls, emails or text messages pretending to be from your bank, asking you to move your money or provide your personal details
  • Emails which appear to be from a legitimate source, such as PayPal, Apple or Amazon
  • Emails or automated calls pretending to be from a government department, commonly the Home Office or HM Revenue and Customs
  • Fake websites selling event tickets or other goods

How to Spot a Scam

Scams can be very sophisticated and therefore sometimes hard to spot, but it’s still always important to keep an eye out for things which don’t seem quite right. Some warning signs to look out for are:

  • If something seems too good to be true, it probably is
  • If you’re contacted by someone you don’t know asking for your bank details or personal information
  • If you’re being asked to respond to something or pay money quickly
  • If you’re being emailed from a suspicious email address – scammers will not be able to send messages from a real domain name, so the email addresses will likely be filled with random letters or numbers

How to Protect Yourself from Scams

Here are some easy things you can do to protect yourself from scams:

  • Create strong passwords for internet sites and try not to use the same password for more than one account
  • Make sure your antivirus software if up to date
  • Never give your money or personal details to anyone you don’t know or someone you have only met online
  • Before you buy anything, check the company or website you are using
  • Don’t be rushed into transferring money or making any quick decisions

How to Report a Scam

If you think you have been scammed, you can report it to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud. You can also contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if you would like any further advice.  You should also let your bank know immediately if you have made a payment to a scammer or given your bank details to anyone.

If you require emotional support after being the victim of a scam, Victim Support has a free, confidential helpline you can contact.