Seven ways to spot a scam
It can be difficult to spot a scam. Fraudsters are extremely cunning and good at creating convincing scams.
You may avoid falling for scams by asking yourself these seven simple questions. If you answer yes to any of the following, there's a good chance it's a scam.
Watch out for Brexit scams
Fraudsters might seek to take advantage of uncertainty and confusion around Brexit to trick us into parting with our money.
Watch out for these Brexit scams which fraudsters may use before, during and after the UK's departure from the EU.
1 Contacted out of the blue?
An unsolicited call can be a sign of being contacted by a company you don't want to deal with.
However, companies do sometimes call their customers out of the blue for a legitimate reason.
If you're called by a company, make sure you do all you can to verify the identity of the caller.
Ask them to give you details that only the company will know. For instance. your service contract details, payment details or bank account details.
If you're not 100% convinced of the identity of the caller, hang up and contact the company directly from a different phone.
There are some instances, though, where it's best if you're the person to instigate the first contact.
For instance, if you're looking to make an investment or if you're looking for a new bank account or credit card, you should always be the first one to make contact.
Watch out for HMRC tax scams
Scammers have increasingly been posing as the HMRC in calls, texts and emails.
If you're contacted out of the blue by someone claiming to be from the HMRC, perhaps saying you're owed a tax refund or there's a warrant for your arrest, it will almost certainly be a scam.
Read more about how to spot the HMRC tax phone scam in our specific guide.
2 Is the deal too good to be true?
Scams will often promise high returns for very little financial commitment. They may even say that a deal is too good to miss.
Use your common sense, if a deal is too good to be true, it inevitably is.
3 Asked to share personal details?
Never share your personal details with anyone you can't validate is who they say they are.
Phone scammers will often try and get valuable personal data from you, and they can use this to steal your identity or steal your money.
Recent Which? research shows that 62% of people say they have been targeted by online fraudsters in the past 12 months
4 Pressurised to respond quickly?
Never proceed unless you are absolutely certain your money will be safe. Once you transfer, it may be too late.
You should be especially weary if someone asks you to do a bank transfer as this offers the least amount of protection.
Scammers will often try to hurry your decision making, always take a breath and think things through.
Salesmen in particular should always give you time and space to make an informed decision, anyone who tries to rush you is not to be trusted.
5 Are the contact details vague?
Vague contact details can be a PO box, premium rate number (starting ‘09’) or mobile number.
If anything goes wrong it's important you can contact those involved. This will be difficult 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.
6 Spelling or grammatical mistakes?
Legitimate organisations will rarely, if ever, make glaring spelling or grammatical mistakes, and if so they will usually be an isolated incident.
7 Are you asked to keep it quiet?
Being asked to keep something quiet should be a red flag. It's important you can discuss any agreements with your friends, family or independent advisors.
Often asking you to stay silent is used to keep you away from the advice and support you need in making a decision.
If you've come across a scam, take a look at our guide to reporting it to the right organisation.
Emotional support after a scam
Being scammed can take a huge toll on your emotional wellbeing and mental health. It's often helpful to speak to someone about what you're going through.
This can be anything from a one-off scam to something which entangles you for months, every scam has an impact on your life no matter its size.
Victim Support has a free, 24/7 helpline where you can speak to someone confidentially. This can be a one-off call or they can refer you to local services for on-going support.
This service is free and run by Victim Support which is an independent charity.
You can contact Victim Support by:
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