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Staying safe from scammers

There are many different types of scam out there, know the warning signs to look out.

Staying safe from scammers.

Most of us will be targeted by scammers at some point. Their goal is to trick us into giving them our money, or revealing personal data they can use to steal from us. To avoid getting caught, read our helpful tips below.

How to spot a scam

Have you been contacted out of the blue?

If you've never heard of the organisation, and you haven't been in touch with them before, you should be suspicious.

    Do they want money upfront?

    A common scammer's tactic is to ask for some money upfront with greater rewards following later. If this happens, it’s almost certainly a con.

      Does it sound too good to be true? probably is. Be sceptical of claims of easy money and big prizes, especially if they ask for you to give money or your bank details.

        Are you being pressured?

        No organisation should require an answer straight away. If they put you on the spot, refuse. If they’re legitimate, they'll be happy to wait.

          Is their spelling and grammar bad?

          Ignore any mail, emails or websites with lots of errors. Legitimate organisations know better.

            Do they want you to keep it secret?

            Organisations normally want publicity for special offers or competitions. They'd never ask you to keep secrets from friends and family.

              Did they use your real name?

              Organisations who’ve obtained your details legitimately will refer to you by your first name or surname, rather than ‘dear sir’ or ‘hello madam’. And they’d never refer to you by an online username or nickname.

                Do they want your personal details?

                Don't give personal details to anyone if you're not sure who they are, especially if they're asking for bank details. Anyone contacting you should have some details already - ask them what they know and how they got that information.

                  Can you get their details?

                  Organisations shouldn't hesitate to offer a phone number or address. They should have a landline, not a mobile number (beginning 07) or premium rate number (beginning 09).


                  Be wary of PO Box addresses - that won't tell you their location. If someone shows up at your door, ask for ID. Don’t trust a number or address you get on an email or letter, use the details they have on an official website.

                    Phone scams

                    Common scams

                    • Your computer software needs updating
                    • You’ve won a prize
                    • Compensation claims
                    • Debt problems
                    • Tax problems / refunds
                    • Pensions or investment opportunities
                    • Problems with a bank or user account

                      Warning signs

                      • If it takes a long time for the caller to answer when you pick up
                      • You’ve never heard of the company before
                      • They pressure you to act immediately
                      • They ask for bank details or your pin
                      • They ask you to install software
                      • They wouldn’t normally contact you by phone


                      Call blocker phones can help you reduce nuisance calls.

                        Email scams

                        Common scams

                        • Confirm an order/an account
                        • Tax refund
                        • Password changed unexpectedly
                        • Get rich quick schemes 
                        • Work from home schemes
                        • Money transfer or online order you don't recall making
                        • Offers on medicines
                        • Transfer money for a reward

                          Warning signs

                          • You’ve never heard of the company or person before
                          • Pressures you to act immediately
                          • Bad grammar and spelling
                          • Doesn’t address you by your real name
                          • Requests bank details
                          • Email address uses odd letters and numbers

                            Mail scams

                            Common scams

                            • You’ve won a competition or lottery
                            • Psychic’s or clairvoyant’s predictions
                            • Work from home offers
                            • ‘Fallen on hard times’ letters
                            • Investment schemes
                            • Unclaimed inheritance

                              Warning signs

                              • Pressure to act quickly
                              • Asks you to send money
                              • Asks for your bank details
                              • Requests money now for rewards/opportunities later
                              • They have a premium rate phone number, beginning 09

                                Pension scams

                                Common scams

                                • Free pension review
                                • ‘One off’ investment opportunity
                                • High investment returns from overseas
                                • Put all your investments into one investment
                                • Access your pension before you hit 55

                                  Warning signs

                                  • You’re contacted out of the blue
                                  • You're pressured into making a deal fast
                                  • Offer to send your brochures/paperwork overnight
                                  • They talk about legal loopholes

                                    What to do

                                      If you’re not sure…

                                      Then do some research. If it’s a letter or email, don’t trust the contact details they give you, or click on any links. If you get a phone call, say you’ll call them back.


                                      Look the company up online. If it’s an organisation you know, find and use the contact details on their site and ask if they’ve tried to get in contact.


                                      If you don’t know the company, search for them online. Check if they have a professional-looking website and see what other people are saying about them. If there are any red flags, don’t contact them.

                                        Reporting scams

                                        If a scammer is pretending to be a real organisation, contact the real company and let them know about it. You can also contact Action Fraud and use their online reporting tool.

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