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Spot and protect yourself from scams

It can be hard to tell if something is a scam - that’s why they work. Fraudsters are cunning and adapt quickly to convince you into parting with your money.

How to spot a scam

Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer yes to any of them, there's a good chance it's a scam.

  • Have you been contacted out of the blue?

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

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

    If you're not 100% convinced about the identity of the caller, hang up and contact the company directly.

  • Have you been asked to share personal details?

    Never share your personal details with anyone if you can't confirm they are 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 money, or even to use your identity to use fraudulently.

  • Are the contact details vague?

    Scam websites often Vague contact details can be a PO box, premium rate number (starting ‘09’) or a 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.

  • Are you being asked to keep it secret?

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

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

  • Is the offer 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.

  • Are you being pressured to make a decision?

    Fraudsters often try to hurry your decision making. 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.

    Sales staff should always give you time and space to make an informed decision, anyone who tries to rush you should not be trusted.

  • Are there spelling and grammar mistakes?

    Emails or messages littered with spelling and grammar mistakes are a scam giveaway. 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.

How to recognise different types of scams

Latest scams to watch out for

Tips to protect yourself from scams

Scammers have become more sophisticated in their bid to part us from our cash. Protect yourself from being scammed by following our tips.

  • Tighten your social media privacy settings

    Update your privacy settings so your profile and the things you post are only visible to your friends and family. You can choose settings that will stop strangers from sending you messages or friend requests. Ignore friend or connection requests from people you don’t know in real life.

  • Use an email provider with strong spam filters

    A good email provider filters out suspect emails and sends them straight to your junk mail so you shouldn’t have to deal with them. We’d recommend using Gmail.

  • Use a call blocking service

    Call blockers stop unsolicited calls. Register for the Telephone Register Service. It’s free and if you’re signed up, companies shouldn’t call you. You can also cheaply buy phones that you can set up to only receive calls from known numbers, while blocking all other calls. Network providers also offer call blocking services, but some do charge a fee.

  • Change your contact details

    Sadly, if you’ve been scammed once, you’re more likely to be targeted again. It might be worth changing your number and/or email address if you’re being bombarded by cold calls and spam.

  • Be protective of your private information

    Anyone asking for your bank details over the phone, email or a message should raise suspicion, even if you’re familiar with the organisation.

    Avoid giving out your phone number, email address, postal address and payment details whenever possible. Unfortunately, the trading of personal information and identities online is also very profitable for criminals.

  • Keep your PIN number to yourself

    Don’t let anyone persuade you to hand over your PIN. Your bank will never ask for your PIN - they just don’t need it to access your account information.

  • Pick tricky passwords

    It’s annoying remembering lots of passwords, but setting a different password for each of your important accounts is a good idea. If one password becomes compromised, scammers can’t use it to access anything else. And the less sense the password makes, the better, so it’s not easy to guess.

  • Keep an eye on your credit file

    Credit scoring services like Experian and Credit Karma allow you to see the history of all the credit products you’ve signed up for. By regularly checking your credit file you’ll pick up on any fraudulent applications that might have been made in your name.

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Our emails will alert you to scams doing the rounds, and provide practical advice to keep you one step ahead of fraudsters.

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Scams help and advice for older people

Although anyone can be scammed, scammers often target the elderly. Elderly people are often targeted by scammers due to social isolation or loneliness. Read & share help and advice for older people to keep yourself, your family & friends safe.

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