Scams: how to spot and beat them

How to spot a scam

If someone you don’t know unexpectantly contacts you, act with caution and be wary.

A scammer may...

  • contact you by phone, post, email, text message or even in person
  • sound pleasant, well-spoken and friendly
  • appear to have slick, professional leaflets and letters
  • be persistent and persuasive
  • lead you to think you have been specially selected
  • rush you into making a quick decision, by claiming an offer is only available for a limited period or that urgent action is needed
  • tell you not to tell or trust anyone else

They will tempt you with an enticing offer or some exciting news, such as...

  • you have won a prize in a draw or a lottery
  • you’ve been specially selected to join a money-making scheme
  • you are entitled to a tax rebate
  • a chance to earn a small fortune by helping them transfer money from a foreign country
  • they can help bring you good fortune and protect you from bad luck
  • they can help ease health-related problems by offering various treatments or products

They may even try to threaten or scare you into acting, such as...

  • your bank account has been compromised and your money is at risk unless you transfer it to another account
  • say your computer has been infected with a virus
  • your telephone line or broadband will be disconnected due to an unpaid bill
  • claim you are going to be prosecuted or that there is warrant for your arrest for not paying a bill

Then they will ask you to...

  • send money or make a payment by using some other means, such as buying gift vouchers
  • provide them with or “confirm” your bank account, credit card or even personal details
  • buy goods from them in order to take advantage of the offer being made
  • phone a premium rate telephone number (starting with 09)

Information from the Metropolitan Police

Further information to help protect yourself from falling victim to the many different types of scams currently operating in the UK can be found in the following “Little Book” series, from the Metropolitan Police.

Read more about the Little Book series, on the Met's website