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Consumer Rights.

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

Sign up for scam alerts

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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Need more help?

Scams Protection Checklist

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

Whether it’s an email scam, text scam or phone scam, our guide explains how and where to report a scam. We also have advice on how to get your money back if you’ve lost out to a scam

Always set strong passwords, and have a unique one for every single website. Re-using passwords can make you vulnerable to a credential-stuffing attack. Using easy-to-remember passwords and reusing the same passwords across lots of websites is not secure. If you’d like to securely store all of your passwords for different accounts we recommend using a password manager. For more on password managers and to help you choose, check out our password manager reviews

2FA is when you add a second step to the log-in process for your online accounts. So rather than just typing in your password, you have to complete a second step, too. Examples of this could be typing in a code sent to you by SMS, generated by an app on your phone or it can be confirming that it’s you with a fingerprint or a scan of your face. Read more advice on two-factor authentication.

Find out if your details have been compromised in a data breach. If your account has been compromised then the company should let you know, but you can find out yourself by visiting haveibeenpwned.com. This is a service run by Troy Hunt, one of the most respected names in online security. It is safe to enter your password to check if it's been revealed in a data breach - the site doesn't store passwords you enter. Try not to worry too much about a data breach, just make sure you change the password for that account and ensure you’ve not used that password anywhere else.

Checking your credit report is an important part of maintaining your financial health. It'll allow you to pick up on any mistakes - or even fraudulent applications. Read our advice on how to check your credit file for free. You could also join Cifas Protection Registration which notifies banks to make extra checks if your details are used to open a new account.

Avoid putting your phone number and full date of birth on social media - scammers trawl through profiles looking through this information. 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.

Call blockers stop unsolicited calls, by registering for the free Telephone Register Service companies shouldn’t call you. You can use our free tool to report nuisance calls and texts to the regulators for potential enforcement action. There are also ways you can block nuisance calls on your landline and mobile device.

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.

We will send you emails with the latest scams and practical advice on how to stay one step ahead of fraudsters. Sign up online.

For £5/month the Which? Tech support helpline can give you one to one guidance and support with your online security questions. Sign up online.

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