How to stay one step ahead of fraudsters
There are many types of fraud. Also known as scams, cons, swindles and more. They all have one thing in common - they target individuals or businesses to try and get money or something else of value.
Fraudsters can pretend to be a company and trick you into handing over money and personal information. They can do this via email (phishing), text (smishing), over the phone or in person.
With some knowledge, you can ensure you're one step ahead and protect yourself from fraudsters.
How to protect yourself
Emails, texts, or WhatsApp fraud
- Only click on links in emails or messages if you're 100% certain they're genuine.
- Look out for spelling mistakes and typing errors as this is a sign of phishing emails or smishing texts.
- Be wary of any messages that ask you to act urgently or provide financial or personal information.
- If in doubt, don't respond.
You can report spam text messages directly to your mobile phone provider, free of charge, by forwarding them to 7726. Ofcom provides lots more information about reporting scam texts and mobile phone calls.
You can find more information about how to report online scams and phishing emails at gov.uk.
- Be wary of cold callers offering services. If you need a service, one of the best places to start your search is with your local council.
- Bogus callers can knock at your door claiming to be from your utility company to try and gain access to your home. Always check their ID. If they're genuine, they'll be okay with waiting while you verify who they are with the relevant company. Remember always to make them wait outside while you check.
- Fraudsters can pretend they're from a charity, asking you to donate money. Legitimate charities will all have a charity number, which you can check via the Charity Commission website.
- Some scammers ask you to complete a survey so they can get hold of your details. Only give personal information if you're 100% sure you know how it will be stored and used.
If anyone knocks at your door saying they're from Peabody, they'll always show their ID. If you still need clarification, close the door and ask them to wait while you contact us to check.
- Someone may call claiming to be from your bank. It isn't genuine if they ask for your account and card details, advise you to move your money to a safe account or download an app onto your phone for extra security. Your bank will never ask you to do this – end the call immediately.
- A scammer may call you claiming to be from the helpdesk of a well-known IT firm, such as Microsoft. They'll tell you your computer has a virus and ask you to download 'anti-virus software. Do not do this and end the call. Legitimate IT companies don't contact customers this way.
Other types of phone scams, such as compensation calls, HMRC scams, number spoofing, pension investment scams and more, are all ways of tricking you into handing over your money or personal information. Age UK has lots of advice to help you spot, avoid, and report these types of scam calls.
What to do if you've been a victim of fraud
You can report fraud or cybercrime using Action Fraud's online reporting service at any time of the day or night.
They also provide help and advice over the phone at 0300 123 2040.
Find out more
Need more support?