Recognising scams

In this section you will find all the information you need to know about scams.

We cover topics such as:

What is a scam and who do they target?

Scams are schemes designed to con you out of your money. There are a range of scams that can target you at home or work and come in the form of a letter, email, telephone call or a text message. You can be targeted:

  • through the post with offers of prize draws, lottery win claims and false invoices
  • over the phone with advertising schemes and offers to reduce tax
  • through your computer with viruses or false offers to remove viruses that don't exist
  • by being offered loans by fake lenders who ask you to pay fees up front via Western Union or similar
  • by being misled when buying goods on the internet. A few sites may be fake and there are others that sell fake goods.

It’s not only consumers and the general public who are targeted by scams. Businesses are also targeted. See Common scams targeting businesses.

Tips on avoiding scams for Consumers and the general public

Tips on avoiding scams for Businesses

  • Don’t rush into an agreement.
  • Make some basic internet checks on the business that has approached you. Just typing their name into a search engine may bring up blogs and other warning information.
  • Check Companies House - how long have they been trading, have they submitted accounts, have they regularly changed name?
  • If the business has a website check WHOIS to see who has registered the website and from where.
  • Check the Action fraud website. They have an A-Z list of frauds.
  • Register with the Mailing Preference Service to cut down on unwanted direct mail that is addressed to you: You can visit or phone 0845 703 4599.
  • Register with the Telephone Preference Service to cut down on unwanted phone calls, texts and SMS messages. You can visit or call 0845 070 0707.

Last updated: 29 November 2019