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Types of scam

Financial fraud takes on many forms and scammers are always creating new ones, but there are few common scams you should be aware of.

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Types of scam

Worried about fraud?

Learn the tell-tale signs and how to protect yourself


Phishing is an attempt to steal your personal details, usually secure logins or confidential bank details.

The name derives from fishing, as there is usually ‘bait’ used to catch victims.

This bait usually comes in the form of emails, texts or phone calls of scam artists pretending to be your bank.

Phishing can be an especially sophisticated scam that can catch out even the most wary, but as a rule never hand out your bank details in full (most banks will never request your full details, they will ask for random characters from your passwords and PINs) and don’t reply or touch any links on emails you find suspicious.

Card cloning

This is a very common scam where fraudsters will steal your card details and create a duplicate card. They will then spend with this clone of your card to steal from your bank account or borrow in your name.

Your card details can be stolen in any number of ways ranging from stealing your physical card to electronically stealing your details.

A common scam is to alter ATMs or payment terminals with technologies that enable fraudsters to steal your card details. Banks and card providers advise people to keep an eye out for anything that looks suspicious at an ATM and report it immediately.

Identity theft

This is another common scam, it usually entails fraudsters using your personal details to create accounts and borrow credit in in your name.

It is a particularly invasive form fraud and it can be difficult process to fix, but the good news is if someone fraudulently borrows in your name or makes unauthorised purchases with your credit card, these debts should be waived under the Consumer Credit Act.

If you are a victim of identity theft, as well as getting in touch with your bank as soon as you notice something amiss you should report it to Action Fraud, who are the branch of the police responsible for frauds.

You can also register yourself with CIFAS, who operate the National Fraud Database, and can help protect you from future identity fraud.

It’s also worth checking your credit reports with all three of the main credit referencing agencies (Experian, Equifax and CallCredit) and get them to flag any instances of fraudulent applications for credit.

Investment scams

Investment scams are particularly sinister as they are an attempt to con people out of their life savings by getting them to invest fake companies or investment funds.

Always seek regulated financial advice from a reputable source you trust, before investing in any products where you perceive there to be risk.

You should also always undertake background checks on anyone you’re going to hand your money, the FCA and companies house will have full listings of all financial organisations and any .

If you’re depositing money to save as cash, check that the firm is a registered members of the financial services compensation scheme (FSCS) as this will guarantee the return of deposits up to £85,000.

Romance fraud

Fraudsters are unscrupulous criminals and will prey on vulnerable people using any means they can. This can include tricking people looking for love.

The rise of online dating has made this type of scam much more common. Usually the scammers will pretend to be someone romantically interested in the victim, win their trust, before tricking them into handing over money or confidential details.

Never give your personal details to anyone no matter how much you trust them.

Make sure to always meet someone in person from a dating app before giving them access to your personal address, email, social network profiles or phone number (even then, do so with caution).

Also, never send anyone money to enable them to come and visit you, this is a common fraud.

Fake products

Buying something online that doesn’t exist or doesn’t meet the advertised expectations is a common scam.

While con artists have been selling products that don’t work as advertised since time immemorial, the internet has made it easier for them to do this as you can’t see the product before you buy it.

If you bought a product through a recognised online retailer such as Amazon or eBay, they should offer some purchase protection, but you can also claim your money back through your credit card provider.

Prizes, rewards and money for nothing

It should go without saying that normally anyone offering you prize for a competition you did not enter, or a cash reward for doing nothing, is trying to scam you.

A typical con is getting you to forward money or hand over your bank details, after which you will receive a large sum of money. However, this money will never appear and the fraudster will just disappear with your money or personal details.

Worried about fraud?

Checking your credit report can be a good way to keep a close eye on your financial history