Spotting a scam
It’s important to always keep an eye out for scams. Here are some of the main warning signs of scams to look out for:
- It seems too good to be true – like an email saying you’ve won a competition you don’t remember entering
- Someone you don’t know contacts you unexpectedly
- You’re being urged to respond quickly so you don’t get time to think about it or talk to family and friends
- You’ve been asked to pay for something urgently or in an unusual way – for example by bank transfer or gift vouchers
- You’ve been asked to give away personal information
How to protect yourself from scams
- Don’t be rushed into making any quick decisions. It’s okay to take your time
- Never give money or personal details, like passwords or bank details, to anyone you don’t know, trust or have only met online. If someone pressures you for these, it’s most likely a scam
- Before you buy anything, check the company or website you’re using. Read reviews from different websites, search for the company’s details on Companies House, and take a look at their terms and conditions
- Pay by debit or credit card. This gives you extra protection if things go wrong
- Be suspicious. Scammers can be very smart. They can appear like a trusted business or government official, have a professional website and say all the right things. Take your time to work out if this is a real organisation. Ask them for ID or contact the organisation on a number you know and trust
- Make sure your antivirus software is up to date
- Keep your online accounts secure. Use a strong password for email accounts that you don’t use anywhere else. Choosing three random words is a good way to create a strong and easy to remember password. You can also add in numbers and symbols.
- If you’re not sure about something, get advice from a trusted source
What to do if someone has been scammed
- Protect themselves from further risks
Stop things getting worse. They should contact their bank immediately to let them know what’s happened. They should also change any relevant log-in details, and check for viruses if they were scammed on a computer.
- Check if they can get their money back
If they’ve lost money because of a scam, there might be ways they can get it back. Again, make sure they tell their bank what happened straight away. If they’ve paid for something by card, bank transfer, Direct Debit or PayPal, then depending on the circumstances they might be able to help them get their money back.
- Report the scam
Reporting scams helps authorities stop the criminals responsible, and protects others from being scammed.
Anyone who’s been scammed should:
- Call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or go their website www.citizensadvice.org.uk
If they’ve been scammed online they can also get advice from a Scams Action adviser on 0808 250 5050 or via webchat.
- Report the scam to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud. They’ll also give them a crime reference number, which can be helpful if you need to tell your bank you’ve been scammed
- You can also find out about common financial scams on the Financial Conduct Authority’s website at www.fca.org.uk/consumers/protect-yourself-scams.
Help others to be Scams Aware
Follow this link to the Friends Against Scams Training