The world of scams

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Examples of typical scams

Scam statistics

5 signs you might be being scammed

Emotional harm

Support organisations

Scam alert service and FAQs

Help and advice

Jargon buster

Click here for common scams and fraud terminology to know about.

Warning signs and what to look out for

Scam example: your bank's fraud team give you a call

1. A scammer spoofs your bank's phone number, so it looks like your bank is calling you.

2. When you answer, the scammer tells you they're a member of the fraud team.

3. They ask you a series of questions to prove your identity, including sending texts with confirmation codes which they ask for to prove your identity.

4. When you hang up and check your account, you see the codes actually allowed the scammers to drain your account.

Spot a pension scam

Check for phrases used, for example, 'one-off investment opportunity', 'free pension review', 'legal loopholes', 'cash bonus' or 'government endorsement'.

You're approached out of the blue over the phone, via text messages or in person at your door.

You're asked to transfer your money overseas.

No copies of documentation are provided.

You're encouraged to speed up transfer.

Is it a legitimate investment?

Check whether the organisation is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

See if they're on the FCA warning list.

Tell someone - find an advisor.

Fake courier communications:

If you're not 100% sure whether an email is really from a courier because you're expecting a delivery, see if you can check the reference or tracking number and whether it matches the order you're waiting for.

You can also contact the delivery company directly to check whether the email is real.

If you have given away any personal details after receiving this type of message, let your bank know immediately, and also keep an eye out for any unusual bills or accounts that might have been set up in your name. One way to do this is by regularly checking your credit file.

Letter templates

Letter to complain to your bank about Authorised push payment (APP) fraud.

Letter to your bank if you're a victim of a phishing scam.

Letter before a small claims court.

Complaint letter to cancel an online order.

Complaint letter to report an issue with a purchase via credit card.

Letter of deadlock before going to the ombudsman.

Letter to ask a bank for repayment of a disputed transaction.

Examples of typical scams

Barclays unusual payee request - fake texts purporting to be from banks are nothing new, but scammers are finding more sneaky ways to convince customers. Full story.

Scam call warning: Amazon Prime 'renewal' - the Amazon Prime scam call was one of the most reported scams in 2020 and continues to target people. Full Story.

GOV UK parking penalty charge email - a fake email that claims to be from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service. Full Story.

Fake PayPal emails - PayPal is often a target for scammers looking for quick access to your money. Full Story.

Click here for the latest scams and scams news.

Sharing with your networks

If you're worried about your friends and family losing money to a scam, share our alert service with them. We've suggested a template message for you to share on your Facebook or Twitter account, or privately as a message. All you have to do is copy and paste the post below and share it with them directly:

I think it's time to outsmart scammers. 

Every second £54 is lost to fraud in the UK. Keep up to date with the latest scams so you're not caught out - sign up to Which?'s free scam alerts

Download our guide for your loved ones

Scams don't happen just online or through email. Many people can be contacted by a fraudster via telephone. If you're worried about a loved one who isn't online, you can download and print off our guide 5 signs you might be being scammed. It's ideal to keep by the phone as a checklist if you're not sure the caller is someone who they say they are.

Scam statistics

The City of London Police reported a 400% increase in scams as a result of coronavirus-related fraud.

Which? surveyed 2,000 people who use social media and search engines and found that scam adverts on the biggest platforms have tricked nearly one in 10 people into paying for sham purchases. 

It's estimated that £27m was lost to cryptocurrency and investment scams in 2018/2019.

Reports of authorised push payment (APP) fraud - where the victim is tricked into moving money into a scammer's account - jumped by 45% in 2019 and resulted in losses of £456m.

More than 900,000 HMRC scams were reported in 2020 - more than half of these offering fake tax rebates. 

Almost 15,000 cases of impersonation fraud were reported to UK Finance between January and June 2020 up 84% on the previous year. Victims lost a total of £58m.

Emotional harm

We know that it's not just the financial loss that affects people but also the emotional harm caused by scams. In fact, 79% of victims said they were harmed emotionally, even in instances where their money was reimbursed. The emotional impact includes stress, irritation, loss of sleep and even some mental health issues including anxiety and depression. If you've fallen victim to a scam it's important to remember that you are not alone. There are a number of organisations that can help out and, if you're struggling, we strongly recommend you reach out to them.

Support organisations

The Samaritans - a charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress. 

Contact on 116 123 or email [email protected]

Victim Support (England and Wales) a charity dedicated to helping people affected by crime across England and Wales.

Call its support helpline for free on 08 08 16 89 111

Victim Support (Scotland) - a charity dedicated to helping people affected by crime across Scotland.

Contact their free helpline on 0800 160 1985 (8am-8pm, Mon-Fri)

Victim Support (Northern Ireland) - a charity dedicated to helping people affected by crime across Northern Ireland.

If you would like to make an appointment to speak to someone from Victim Support NI, please call the Hub closest to you. Belfast - 02890 243133 or Foyle 02871 370086

Scam alert service

If you haven't already, don't forget to sign up to our free scam alert service to help you outsmart the scammers. If you've just signed up, perhaps this might answer some of your questions: Scam alert service FAQs.