Scams are dishonest schemes, with the aim of tricking you into giving away your money, or personal information. Scammers will often target vulnerable people, as well as businesses.
Scams can include misleading claims about various goods and services.
Citizens Advice has information on how to recognise a of scam.
Beware of COVID-19 scams (National Trading Standards website).
Coronavirus related scams
As people worry about their health, families and finances during the current pandemic, unscrupulous criminals are taking full advantage of these fears and are preying on members of the public.
As scams that have been around for a while are ‘updated’ to exploit this situation, the following are just a few of the various scams currently circulating to be aware of.
Beware of cold calls pretending to be from a trusted organisation – such as banks, the police, a utility provider or a computer company. Trying to obtain personal or financial information, they encourage victims to hand over card details, or trick them into revealing PIN numbers or transfer money into accounts they control.
To make their call appear genuine, fraudsters often use a tactic called ‘number spoofing’. This is where they alter the phone number they appear to be calling from, so that it matches a number that victims may recognise and trust. Then they ask the victim to check their handset display in an attempt to convince them it’s a real call.
As some scammers stay on the phone while the person they’ve contacted tries to dial out, to trick them into thinking they're through to the real company. If a call wasn’t expected it’s always best to hang up and find the real phone number from an actual bill or similar documentation.
Phishing emails and text message scams
‘Phishing’ is when criminals try to convince those they contact to click on links within a scam email or text message. These scams tend to include a link to a fake but very convincing website designed to trick victims into submitting personal information such as bank details, a password or a credit card number.
COVID-19 related examples of this are:
- Fake government texts – claiming to be from official Government sources issuing a fake 'relief' pay-outf. Neither of these are genuine, so don't be tempted to click links.
- Voucher Scams – scammers have been using supermarket branding to trick people into thinking they are being offered money off purchases during the lockdown period. Emails are sent with a link that invites the recipient to claim or apply for a voucher, but the scammers are really aiming to steal personal or financial details.
Criminals are also using the 'number spoofing' technique in this scam, which can make a message appear in a chain of texts alongside previous genuine messages from that organisation.
Is it often the elderly or most vulnerable in our communities who are targeted by criminals with cold calls on the doorstep. Scammers take their unsuspecting victims’ money and may also attempt to obtain personal information that may then be passed to other fraudsters.
Report a scam
If you or someone you know have been targeted by a scam and you would like to report it or want advice, contact the Citizens Advice consumer service or call it's consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.
If you know the scam has come from abroad also known as distance selling, you can report it to econsumer.gov
Action Fraud provide advice on staying safe online. You can also contact them to report an email or internet scam.
Reduce unwanted calls and mail
Mail Preference Service can help to reduce unsolicited mail, you can also call on 0207 291 3310.
Telephone Preference Service can reduce unwanted calls, you can call on 0345 070 0707.
Friends against scams
You can also become a Friend Against Scams and learn how to recognise scams and protect yourself and those you know from becoming a scam victim.
Report it to Trading Standards and/or request something
You can also use our online form to report a scam, where you will have the option to request information leaflets and doorstep stickers (if required), to help deter potential scammers.
If you don't want to report a scam, but only require door stickers and leaflets, use the form below instead.