We're all worried about money.

Don't let scammers take yours.

Be scam aware 4
What is a scam?
A scam is a scheme to try to steal money, personal information or data from a person or organisation. Other names for a scam include fraud, hoax, con, swindle and cheat.
Scams can affect anyone, at any age, and happen online or in person. Lots of us are facing higher bills and worrying about money, and scammers are trying to take advantage of this.
Examples of scams are someone:
  • Pretending to be an energy company offering 'too good to be true' deals on gas or electricity costs, in person or online, in order to steal your money
  • Doing work on your house or garden that you didn't ask for or agree to, and then demanding payment
  • Sending out phishing emails pretending to offer an energy or Council Tax rebate or government support to obtain your personal information or bank details.
How can I spot a scam?
It’s important to always keep an eye out for scams. They can and do affect anyone. 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
  • You've been asked to pay for something urgently
  • You’ve been asked to give away personal information
  • Be suspicious. Scammers 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 an official phone number
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How can I protect myself?
  • Don’t rush into making decisions. If someone pressures you, it's probably a scam
  • Never give money or personal details, like passwords or bank details, to anyone you don’t know, trust or have only met online
  • Pay by debit or credit card. This gives you extra protection if things go wrong
  • 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
  • If you’re not sure about something, get advice from a trusted source
What else can I do to stop online scams
  • Don’t click on or download anything you don’t 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. Try choosing 3 random words and adding symbols or numbers
    • Some websites let you add a second step when you log in to your account. This is known as ‘2-factor authentication’. This makes it harder for scammers to access your accounts
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What can I do if I've been scammed?
  • Tell your bank straight away. They may be able to help you get your money back
  • Protect yourself by changing your online passwords and checking your computer for viruses
  • Report the scam. There's information on how to report them in this leaflet
How to get help and report scams
If you or someone you know has been scammed, you should:
Call the Citizens Advice consumer service if you need support: 0808 223 1133
Citizens Advice will report it to Trading Standards, and can offer further advice.
Report the scam to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040
Sign up for Trading Standards scams alerts: FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk/Scam-Alert
Sign up for Action Fraud scams alerts: Actionfraud.police.uk
Below you can download a copy of our Be Scams Aware Leaflet, and we've also got an easy read scams guide.
You can read all our scams advice here: citizensadvice.org.uk/ScamsAdvice, including how to:
Check if something might be a scam, which includes an online helper tool to help you work out if it could be a scam
Check if you can get your money back after a scam
What to do if you've been scammed
Report a scam
Get emotional support if you’ve been scammed
Get help with online scams
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First published: 10 June 2022.