What You Need to Know


Financial Fraud

Protecting Yourself

Financial fraud and scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated and according to the National Crime Agency (NCA), it is the most commonly experienced crime in the UK.

Fraudsters can be articulate and financially knowledgeable, with credible websites, testimonials and materials that are hard to distinguish from the real thing. They can come in many forms, but all are designed to get hold of your money.

They can do this by getting you to reveal your personal details, stealing your information, or even getting you to willingly hand over the cash. The impact of fraud and related offences such as counterfeiting can be devastating, ranging from unaffordable personal losses suffered by vulnerable victims to impacting the ability of organisations to stay in business.

The key is knowing how to recognise a scam, protect yourself and what to do if you think you’ve been targeted or have fallen victim.

Find out more from the NCA
Common Tactics

Types of Fraud

The tactics used by scammers or fraudsters can vary from someone knocking on your door to an unexpected email or phone call.

The internet and advances in digital communications have opened new and easier ways for scammers to target you and steal your information.

Chances are, you’ve come across a spam email saying you’re about to come into some money or pretending to be from HMRC or your bank. However, while some scams can be quite easy to spot and avoid, others are much more sophisticated.

  • Phishing – an email scam where you appear to get a message from a legitimate source or company. Often it will encourage you to click a link and log into your account. The email link actually goes to a fake website which collects your information.
  • Vishing – a phone call pretending to be from your bank or reputable company. During the phone call, the fraudsters will attempt to get you to reveal your personal details.
  • Investment scams – generally a phone-based scam although you might be targeted in other ways, such as email. Investment scams vary but the principle remains the same – you are encouraged to hand over money to invest in a company or product, which doesn’t exist.
  • Pension scams – since pension freedoms were introduced retirees are able to access large sums of money from pension pots. Unfortunately leading to an increase in targeted scammers potentially after large amounts of money. Pension scams will usually follow a similar path to investment scams, with contact normally being made by telephone.
  • Authorised payment fraud – you might get a text or WhatsApp from a new number, telling you that they’re a friend or relative that needs money. The messages can be worryingly convincing, if in doubt, call or message the person they’re pretending to be on their old number to double-check.
  • Safe Account scams – you’ll be contacted, usually on the phone by someone claiming to be from your bank. They’ll say your account has been compromised in some way and encourage you to transfer all your money from your bank to a ‘safe account’.
  • Door-to-door scams – a common example is a person claiming to be a builder who happened to notice some damage to your roof when they were passing. Fake charity collectors and salespeople are other examples.

There are many other types of scams, unfortunately, from selling fake tickets to ‘crash for cash’ insurance fraud. Always question, never be pressurised into a time-sensitive offer and remember, if it is too good to be true, it probably is.

MoneyHelper's Guide to Scams
Real or Not Real?

Recognising a Scam

Knowing what to look out for when it comes to scams is one of the best ways to protect yourself. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is and legitimate companies will never ask for full PIN codes and passwords.

If you are pushed into making a decision on the spot, be suspicious. Scammers don’t want you to have time to think about it.

Things to look out for

  • Phone calls – be vigilant when answering calls from unrecognised numbers. Some phones now flag when they think a call may be a scam. Never give out personal details unless you are 100% sure you are talking to who you think you are. Never be pressurised to make decisions there and then. Since January 2019, there has been a ban on cold calling about pensions. This means you should not be contacted by any company about your pension unless you’ve asked them to.
  • Email address – might appear to be from someone you know and trust, but always look closely at the full email address, not just the name. If it’s a scam, the email address the message has come from might not match up with the sender’s name, have misspellings, random numbers or be from one of your contacts that’s been hacked.
  • Text messages – scammers can make their numbers look like ones you trust, like from your bank. The message might even appear in the same conversation as legitimate texts you’ve had before. This is known as ‘number spoofing’. Avoid clicking links in text messages, and don’t be afraid to contact the company directly to check if it’s a real message.
Get help

What To Do If You Are A Victim of Fraud

If you’ve been caught out by a complex and convincing scam that has resulted in you transferring your money into another bank account then you should contact your bank immediately. They may be able to stop or recover the funds once they are notified.

If you think you’ve uncovered an investment scam, been targeted by a scam or fallen victim to fraudsters, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at Action Fraud.

If you think you’ve been targeted by a scam, you should also report it so it can be investigated. You can do this through the Financial Conduct Authority website using their reporting form

If you feel threatened, report this to the police immediately by calling 999.