Published: 29/09/2021

Identify and protect yourself from scams

Here we give you some information how to identify and protect yourself from scams. These days it can be difficult to tell if something is a scam - that’s how and why they work. Fraudsters are cunning, adapting quickly to convince you into parting with your hard-earned money.

How to spot a scam

If you answer yes to any of the following questions there's every likelihood it's a scam.

Have you been contacted out of the blue?

Any unexpected emails, cold calls or messages should raise suspicion, especially if you’re asked to give payment or personal details.

It’s very unusual for Legitimate organisations are very unlikely to contact you and ask for sensitive information if you’re not expecting them to.

Hang up and contact the company directly if you're not 100% convinced about the identity of the caller.  Check numbers online – don’t use the number given on the phone or in the email.

Have you been asked to share personal details?

If you can't confirm they are who they say they are, never share your personal details with anyone.

Phone scammers will often try and get valuable personal data from you, and they can use this to steal your money, or even take over your identity to use fraudulently.

Are the contact details vague?

Scam websites often use vague contact details that can be a PO box, premium rate number (starting ‘09’) or a mobile number. Legitimate firms and organisations don’t usually use mobile numbers and almost always have an identifiable address.

It will be difficult if anything goes wrong to contact those involved if you don't have accurate contact information.

Premium rate numbers are also a favoured trick for squeezing every penny they can out of you.

Are you being asked to keep it secret?

Asking you to keep quiet is a way to keep you away from the advice and support you need in making a decision

It's important you can discuss any agreements with your friends, family or advisors.

Is the offer too good to be true?
Use your common sense, if a deal is too good to be true, it usually is.

Scams often promise high returns for very little financial commitment. They may even say that a deal is too good to miss.

If you didn’t buy a lottery ticket it’s not likely you have won a prize!

Are you being pressured to make a decision?

Don’t let anyone make you feel under pressure. It’s OK to take a break and think things through if you’re not sure. Fraudsters often try to hurry your decision making.

Don’t trust anyone who tries to rush you. Sales staff should always give you time and space to make an informed decision and speak to others.

Are there spelling and grammar mistakes?

Legitimate organisations will rarely, if ever, make spelling or grammatical mistakes in their emails to you because they’ve been put together by professionals and checked before they’re sent. Emails or messages littered with spelling and grammar mistakes are a scam giveaway.

Useful contacts and information

Action Fraud – to report

Avoid and report fraud and scams – government website with information

Coronavirus scams