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Common Scams List

Before we start with our list, let's just reiterate the golden rule;  If you're being asked, told, or encouraged to take money out of your bank account, to move it to another account, invest in anything, or to buy, upgrade or do
anything
with your money by someone your do not already
Know And Trust
(personally, that is -
not
a TV/internet celebrity, etc., or someone you have 'met' online), it is almost certainly a scam - so
DON'T
do it!
Whether this is by phone, text, message, app., social media/online profile, promotion video, website, or you cannot trust it to be safe if it is from an unknown source (anyone you don't actually Know and Trust - especially a 'cold caller', or email/text/message notification!). Whether they say they are calling from your bank, phone/utility supplier, Amazon, or whoever,
HOW DO YOU KNOW
that they are who they say they are? The answer is, you
DON'T
and most likely, they will
NOT
be, as most of these organisations will never call you!
If you're not sure, even just slightly suspicious, or you need someone else's opinion, ask someone you
DO
Know And Trust for their opinion or help -
before
you do anything! If you go ahead, it may well be impossible to cancel or reverse it and you may have lost a lot of money - which may be impossible to get back, so take great care and do NOT believe anyone who calls you if you don't actually already Know and Trust them!
The simple and sad truth is that you cannot (or should not) trust anyone you don't know and if someone calls you out of the blue, you simply cannot trust that person to be telling you the truth - especially if they want you to move, spend or invest your hard-earned money!
So, enough general information, let's list a few of the common scams you may come across. These may be by phone, text/message, email, website, or a combination of these, so be very careful and always alert and on the lookout!
Banking, Savings, or Courier Scam.
Of all the scams, this is one of the worst, most heartless and most devastating, as it's usually targeted at the old and the most vulnerable, as they are most likely to have large amounts saved up over a lifetime, not be sure or knowledgeable about technology and also, far more likely to be trusting of strangers. Many thousands of pounds can - and often are - lost; literally, a lifetimes savings in many cases, often leaving the victim virtually penniless - or even in debt!
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This, like many scams, begins with the scammers telling you that they are calling in order to help stop you being scammed! If, they then go on to tell you that you need to move, withdraw, or do virtually anything with your money,
THIS
is the key that tells you
THEY
are scammers - and to just hang up! It usually starts with a phone call, from someone claiming to be from your bank, Visa, Mastercard, the Police, or other official agency. People trying to help prevent you being scammed will
NOT
ask you for, or to do anything with you money!
Whoever they say they are (supposedly) from, they will firstly try to convince you that they genuinely are who they say they are, by telling you personal information about you that they have been able to collect. This information is easy for these people to access. They will then say that your account(s) have been, or are about to be, compromised, or are at high risk of being 'raided' or 'cleaned out' by scammers.
In order to prevent this, they will usually tell you that you need to 'move' your money to another account, either by bank transfer, or by withdrawing all of your cash and paying it into another account, which
they
will give you the details of - or by giving it to someone who will call to collect it, in order to put it 'in a new, safe account' for you! The only 'safe' account for you to move your money to (if and when YOU decide to), is one you choose and set up yourself, whether online (at a safe, secure site of your choosing), or physically at a bank - NOT on the phone or by text/message!
This is where the 'courier' part comes in. They will often say they will send a car or van around to 'escort' you to your bank, so that you will be 'safe'. They will then either take the money directly, or take you to another bank to pay it into 'your' new account -
their
account in other words!
There are many variations and twists that are often used in this type of scam. The scammers may tell you that they are the Police, MI5, Visa, or Mastercard, etc.. If so, they may well tell you that they need your 'help' in 'catching some fraudsters or scammers'. If they do, they will almoost certainly ask you not to tell
anyone
, not even your closest relatives or friends, as this would 'put the plan' at risk. They may also ask you to buy something very valuable with the money, instead of transferring it, so that they can easily pass it on and not get caught. This could be an expensive watch, or even some gold. These are
ALL
lies and part of the scam; do nothing - speak to someone you already Know And Trust!
Whatever you do, do
NOT
withdraw your money and do
NOT
give it or transfer it to another account, or buy an expensive item to give to somebody you don't know from Adam! Instead, using a different phone, or your own phone (by phoning someone you already know and speaking to them), call your bank on the number
you already have
, or you have independently looked up for them (ideally, the number on the back of your bank card). Do
NOT
call any number the scammers have given you and do
NOT
call anyone else straight back on the same phone (apart from someone you already know), as you will almost certainly still be connected to, and speaking to, the scammers again!
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Fake Dating & other Online Profiles.
Along with the last one, this is also very heartless and devastating to anyone who gets caught, as it's targeted at the lonely and vulnerable; people who are desperate for love, or are not well off and are looking to make money by using the same tactics or advice of well known, successful people, but instead find fake sites or profiles which are straight duplicates of the genuine one, or ones that are just similar, but very convincing nevertheless, so don't just accept the fact that the first site/profile you see or find is genuine - check!
These fakes can be simple profiles on online dating sites or apps., fake profiles on Facebook, Instagram, LinkdIn and other such sites, or full websites. If you are looking for love, to invest in crypto Currency (Bitcoin etc.), any other type of investment, or start a business, or, to be honest, interact with
ANY
other website, profile, online account, message, or even phone calls from anyone you don't already Know And Trust, beware - do a search for other 'versions' of the same site/profile to make sure you have the geuine one!
If these sites/profiles are showing you ways to make money, advertising schemes to do this, or if they contact you direct, be
extremely
cautious! Genuine sites and people usually do
NOT
do this, so it is almost certainly going to be a scam - or extremely high risk at the very least!
Scamming Jobs Scam!
This is advertising of 'jobs' IN scamming on Facebook, Tik-Tok, Istagram, etc., though of course, that is not how they wil be advertised! These are ads for so-called 'jobs' for people to work scamming other people! These 'jobs' usually turn out to be an invite to be a modern-day slave! If you apply for these 'jobs', you may be literally locked up and forced to work as a scammer and beaten or tortured if you don't comply with the 'requirements' of your 'employers'.
These people often target young people, often with a degree, but also often targetted at Indian or other eastern origin people. Beware, these 'jobs' are located in Thailand, Myanmar, and other countries in the area, or in Saudi Arabia and similar countries. If you see one of these ads, be extremely cautious! Do NOT travel to anywhere abroad for one of these so-called jobs, or you may well end up enslaved, forced to work for scammers and at risk of physical and phycholgical abuse and coercion.
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Mobile Phone/Upgrade, or Other Purchase Courier Scam.
In this scam, someone will phone you and tell you that they are calling from your phone provider (3, EE, O2, Vodafone, etc.), or from an online retailer and tell you that they have a special offer. This might be for a new phone, phone upgrade, or some other purchase. It will usually be a special 'time-limited' offer, or special offer they have running, or it's because you are a 'valued' or 'long-term' customer. The reason can be many, but it's always a chance to get a 'bargain'. They will usually have some of your information already, to convince you that they are genuine - they are almost certainly NOT, do not take the bait!
If you go ahead with this, whatever you decide to buy or upgrade to, it will be sent to you and you will generally be asked to verify the package when you receive it and call them to confirm it is correct - using a number that
they
will give you. This will be a fake number, not from the genuine provider or retailer they are claiming to be representing. When the package arrives, something about it will be wrong; it will usually be a more expensive option than you chose, usually the top of the range model. So, you will need to call them to let them know, as you were asked to do.
If you call them on the number they gave you, you will be back in touch with the scammers, who will arrange to send a 'courier' collect it and will - supposedly - arrange for the correct item to be sent out in it's place. What will actually happen is that someone - one of the scammers or someone calling on their behalf - will come to collect it and will usually tell you that they can't give you a receipt for it, as their 'system' or 'hand-held device' is 'down', or not working, but that they will send you one. Either that, or they will give you a fake receipt and then take the device away. That is usually the last you will hear of see of them, or your 'bargain' item! They will have obtained the latest, greatest and most expensive phone (or other item) and you will be left with the bill - and the problem of trying to convince the supplier to cancel your need to pay it, either in full, or for £70 or whatever it is per month for the next two or three years!
The Investment Scam
This is usually a phone scam, but beware of similar offers and promises online, or by text, other message, or email. This scam is often targetted to older people (50+), or those with large amounts to 'invest'. The caller promises higher than usual returns on your investment, that your money will increase quickly, and often that it is 'totally safe' and that it is a very time-limited offer, that you simply cannot afford to miss! The reality is that you absolutely cannot afford to put your money in these people's hands and bank account - as you will NOT get it back!
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The way it usually works, is that they will only ask for a small amount to start with, but will fairly quickly get bact to you to tell and/or show you that your money has sharply increased in value. It hasn't, it's all faked! They then ask/suggest that now is the time to invest more, often asking you how much you have, or how much you can afford. This is so that they can get all of your money, without wasting too much of their time, or they may be more cautious and ask you to gradually put ever increasing sums in, all the while providing 'proof' that it is increasing in value. Do
NOT
fall for these tricks and promises - I promise you that you will loose ALL of the money you put into this! Why shoud you you believe us and not them? - because
we
are not asking you for ANY of your money, so
cannot
be trying to scam you!
The general rule of scamming applies here, perhaps more so than anywhere else, that is; 'if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably IS too good to be true' (or, in this case, legal or genuine). This scam relies on people's natural want to trust others, but also on greed. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get the best return for your savings and investment, but beware of ANY offer which purports to pay over the odds; it's either a very risky - but otherwise legal - offer, which may well crash and burn and lose all your money, or, much more likely, a total SCAM, which is
guaranteed
to lose you all of your money! The best advice is to avoid ANY such offers, unless you are an expert in the field, or you get advice from an expert. An extra word of caution here though; even experts get caught out sometimes, so approach these schemes with
extreme
caution!
Video or Email Promo Investment Scam
Beware of investment 'opportunities', even if they are apparently being endorsed by a friend of personality, whether they are online videos, emails or other text or video messages. Videos can be edited, spoofed and even be made by people who have been blackmailed into making what looks like a genuine video, telling you to invest. Whats more, AI software can now replace faces in videos with others, making incredibly realistic 'deep fake' videos, that are totally convincing. However, such investment 'opportunities' are almost always fake and a scam! The more appealing they are, the shorter time available for this 'opportunity' or the more 'exclusive' they are, the more likely they are to be a scam!
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One of the common ones is a Bitcoin (or other 'must have') 'investment' which has - supposedly - been endorsed by a celebrity or well-known and trusted person, such as Martin Lewis, the 'Money Saving Expert'. Martin
never
endorses
ANY
investment, so avoid these like the plague! If in doubt, check out the website of the person who is apparently promoting or endorsing the investment (but NOT via any link they send you!); message them if need be to check, but I guarantee you, this will be a scam!
Free Offer/Voucher Scam - usually on Facebook, Instagram or other Social Media.
There are many fakes on social media, this is just one of them - it's not just the news that's fake! These are usually in the form of a 'free voucher' for one of the discount or big supermarkets, often tied in with the need to supply a copy of an old receipt, or to enter you details for a chance to 'win' - which is usually guaranteed, or limited to the 'first 10,000', or something similar. The requirement for an old receipt is just a way of trying to convince you this is genuine - it is not! Similarly with the limited time, or first 10,000 to enter (or whatever it is), this is just to get you to enter quickly, without thinking too much about it.
The key
IS
to think about it and to check it out on the supermarket's own website (type it in direct to your browser, or do a search). Whatever you do, do
NOT
click on these and enter your details, especially not your bank or credit/debit card details, as you could lose a lot more than the 'registration' fee, or whatever the so-called prize voucher value is! These, like many other scams give themselves away by being 'too good to be true', so don't fall for them.
The Facebook (or other Social Media) cheap insurance Scam.
As with the free voucher offer above (and many other scams), this relies on offering something that is not only too good to be true, it is offering something at a much lower price to those who simply can't afford the real thing - and can least afford to lose the money as well, which is what makes them so cruel. This scam usually offers cheap car insurance to people who's premiums are usually very high, such as young drivers or those with a poor history. The premiums offered are way below real market value insurance, but don't be fooled, what you'll be buying is a completely worthless piece of paper!
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These people either issue completely fake insurance papers, or, at 'best', take out insurance in somebody elses name, then change the name and address to yours, then cancel the insurance. Either way, you will
NOT
be insured and risk being prosecuted and having your car taken away and
crushed
. Even worse, you could have an accident and then not have any way of compensating someone who might have been injured (or money to support yourself, if you've been injured) - and you will still lose you car, one way or another - and will still get prosecuted, whether it was your fault or not! Do NOT buy insurance of any type on Facebook, or other social media sites - go to a registered broker, online comparison site, or direct from a geuine insurance company! If you can't afford
real
insurance, then, unfortunately, you can't afford to drive. As a way of reducing your premiums, try adding another driver onto your policy, someone with lots of driving experience and a clean license, such as a parent or other relative - BUT, they do need to be genuinely available as an alternative driver and YOU, the person who will normally be the driver, must be the primary driver listed. Check out the MoneySavingExpert site again for more useful tips on this (opens in new window).
The Amazon (or other) fake purchase, subscription, or refund Scam.
This scam revolves around someone 'from Amazon' (or other online retailer or site) getting in touch, often by phone, telling you that you've bought something online on Amazon, EBay, or other inline store, or subscribed to a service like Amazon Prime. This may be an account you already have, or you might not even be an existing customer, but they will usually have some of your personal information (name, address, account no., etc.) to try to convice you that they are who they say they are. They will often tell you that they are trying to prevent you from being scammed! How do you know if this is true? Well, nobody who is geuinely trying to stop you from being scammed will ask for access to your device or account, or will ask for money or try to refund you directly, or ask you to move or transfer your money or ask directly for money - these are the key give-aways!
There are several possible variations to this scam. Either they are after your account details, so that they can order through your account and get items sent to themselves, or they are after your bank/card details, or they will claim that a purchase you have made, or subscription to a service, such as Amazon prime, has been made incorrecly by accident, or that you have been charged twice, or overcharged, and are therefore owed a refund. They will usually ask to connect to your account through your phone, tablet or laptop, by asking you to install a program or APP to allow them to do this, or ask for your account details so that they can 'refund' you. Do NOT do this - DO NOT allow any company who contacts you to have access to your device by
ANY
method! By this we mean by installing a remote connection program or APP. Do
NOT
do this - refuse and
HANG UP
!
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The Car/Van/Campervan online purchase Scam
Beware of any car, van, campervan, motorhome, or caravan which is being offered for sale at a remote location to yourself, or claims that they can 'deliver' to you. There are many genuine companies that will deliver vehicles to you, but it can be hard to know which ones are in fact genuine. Firstly,
NEVER
buy from abroad! This is almost guarantee to be a scam and you will never see the vehicle of your money back.
Secondly,
NEVER
buy and pay 'off-site' (if advertised on eBay, Facebay, etc.), OR pay by Bank Transfer, Money Transfer (Western Union etc.), or cash UNLESS you do so while actually checking and collecting the vehicle
YOURSELF
-
and
you know how to check the vehicle in question (mechanicall, and legally) and know exactly what you are doing. If paying by cash - or, if selling and accepting cash - check and count the money in front ot the buyer/seller AND a whitness (friend/relative). Check that the notes are genuine and that the amount is exactly as agreed. This seems obvious, but scammers will try to take more or give less and will often try to distract you from counting, or count it out themselves and try to cover up that they are giving you less, or that you have not given them enough.
The Off-platform Scam
If you're buying an item on a website, don't get tricked into completing a purchase 'off-platform'. This means being asked to not use the website payment service of the site you found or purchased the deal on and to complete and pay for your purchase 'offline', i.e., 'privately'. This is almost always a scam, because you now have no protection, especially if you pay by bank transfer or cash. Instead, STAY on the site (ebay/Amazon/Facebook etc.) to complete your purchase and if you HAVE to purchase any other way, make sure you go to CHECK and COLLECT the item yourself and/or only pay using a credit card for some level of protection (for purchases over £100), or literally use 'cash on collection' (see above), only once you are happy with the item, the seller, the price you are paying and you can take it away there and then.
This is especially true for high-value items like cars and and other vehicles and jewelry. Only pay when you have inspected the item and satisfied yourself (and someone who knows the item better than you if you're not an expert) that what you are buying is worth what you are paying. Vehicles can be very difficult to check if you are not an expert - jewelry perhaps even more so! Don't take someone's word for the what something is or what it's worth. If you buy from a reputable webite though, you should have a chance of some sort of recompense should things go wrong - but
ONLY
if you complete the transaction on their website!
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The Income Tax, Vehicle Tax, or Benefits Refund Scam.
Similar to the above, but usually a text message or email, telling you that you're due a refund on your income tax, vehicle tax, TV license, or a benefits payment or refund. In the UK at least, you can only get a refund on vehicle tax if you are cancelling the tax on your vehicle, when selling it for example, so this is a dead give-away. The other, usual tell-tale sign is the email address it's come from or website address given. Although the message will usually have some of your personal details (name, address, etc.) to try to convice you that they are who they say they are, this will often be wrong, or they will have sent it to one of you email addresses that's not used for this purpose.
So, check carefully the email address it has come from, by right-clicking (or press-holding) on the message and selecing 'properties'. If this does not
exactly
match that of the genuine organisation (like gov.uk) that it should be coming from (which you can easily check with a simple search if you're not sure), then it is a scam! Sometimes it is even easier than that. Also be extremely careful of any links, do
NOT
click on them whatever you do! These links often show an email or web address that would be a genuine address,
but
, there is a 'hidden' address that the link will actually take you to and that will be
different
- and almost certainly a SCAM! Refunds, if available, are not going to be more than you originally paid! So, if your vehicle tax is £30 a year and the refund is for more than that, then it is clearly a scam - so block and delete it!
The WhatsApp code Scam:
This is a scam that starts with a criminal getting access to a WhatsApp account which is not theirs. They only need one account, so be very careful with your login details and security - so that it's not yours!
The criminal, pretending to be your friend, someone who knows you, or a member of a WhatsApp group you're in, sends you a message (or messages), to try and start a conversation with you. The messages may well seem innocent enough (at first anyway), but at, or around the same time, you will get a text message from WhatsApp containing a new security code.
This will be because the criminal who has messaged you has been trying to login to WhatsApp, using
your
mobile phone number and account, but cannot get in. WhatsApp therefore automatically sends you a new OTP (One Time Password/Passcode) security code so that you can log in, assuming that you've been locked out and/or as a prompt for you to change your login password to protect your account.
This is called a 'Push' notification, a message sent direct to your screen by an APP you have installed, even if it is not currently active. It appears on your device as a 'notification', not as a text, email, or other message, so that you can quickly be warned of a security alert, transaction notice, or maybe a special offer etc., even when you're not using the app, or email, text etc..
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The criminal will then claim that WhatsApp sent you
their
code by accident. They will then ask you if you woud send it to them. Do
NOT
do this - do
NOT
give or share this code with
ANYONE
. This code is for
YOUR
account and your account only - there is no way anyone else's code could be sent to you by accident!
If you send the criminal this code, they will have access to your WhatsApp account and can use it to contact anyone in
your
name, potentially scamming them, as they will assume the message is from
YOU
- especially people you already know and have in your contacts list - and they can also lock you out of your own account!
The criminal can then use the same tactic with all of your WhatsApp contacts, to try to steal even more accounts and use them to send even more people similar messages - which again will seem to come from a trusted contact - to scam them in some way as well!
Firstly, as mentioned, do
NOT
share this code with anyone,
especially
if asked for it. But don't immediately delete it either, as you may need it to log in to your own account on other devices, or to change/update your password/passcode. The easy way to avoid this scam, or at least to make it a lot more difficult, is to set up Two-Factor Authenticationication (2FA), which gives you an extra layer of protection from anyone else logging into your account. To do this, tap Settings / Account / Two-Factor Authentication (sometimes called Two-Step Verification) and tap on 'Enable'.
The Proof of ID and Safety Scam
If someone asks you to verify that you are a good, honest person, perhaps when signing up to a webite, and asks you to so by visiting a website in order to do so, be very aware! There are lots of scam websites purporting to do this. What can you look out for? The fact that your'e being asked is almost enough, but if they suggest a website to use, that is a big red line! Do NOT do this, whatever the reason. The only people who should be doing this, are employers and volunteer agencies, to check that you are a reliable and honest person and suitable for the position they want to fill. For these, or any other such requests, ONLY do so if you can verify that the organisation asking is genuine and that the website of service that they request you to use, is also genuine, like checking that they are a registered CRD and/or DBS check company.
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The Spoofed website/login Scam
One of the most common online scams is the fake website, purporting to be another, usually regularly used site, such as amazon, Ebay, or maybe the police or a local authority, or even the govenment. These can sometimes come up un simple searches and may well look genuine, so whenever you are looking for a website, don't just accept the first one suggested by google, or other search engine. Instead, take a good look at the suggestion and the actual web address given. Check several listing until you find the one you actually want.
By far the best way to go to any site, is to know the address and type it in, or use a saved 'bookmark' or 'favourite' - but beware, there are viruses that can change your favourites/bookmarks to take you to fake sites! This is rare, but can happen, so always check after opening a webpage that it is genuine (check the address and content are correct). The most likely way you will get sent to a fake website is via a link in an email or text/message. Check any such message carefully and avoid clicking on links if at all possible. If you do click on one, only use the website if it does NOT ask you to log in! If it does ask you to log in, DON'T! - check to be absolutely sure that you are on the genuine site FIRST, or even better, use a saved favourite/bookmark to go there or type the address directly into the address bar, or do a search (and check again that you have the genuine site). Whatever you do, don't log in from a link - close your browser window and delete the email or message! To check to see if a site is genuine or not, copy the link by right-clicking or pressing and holding on the link and selecting 'copy link' (or if you've opened it, select it in the address bar, then press/hold or right click to copy the link) and paste it into a website like 'urlscan.io' to check if it is genuine. This can you actually
going to
the website to check it!
Search results Scams
When you search using Google, Yahoo, or other search engine, most links that come up will likely be fairly safe, but it's certainly not guaranteed. Always check carefully where the link is going before you click on it. Some search results will not be safe though, and while some of these may not technically be scams (but obviously can be, so be careful), they may well not be what you are looking for, but another site that will try to sell you something when you may be able to get it for free, as is the case with most local authority, govenment and health service sites (such as getting your GHIC health card for travelling abroad, etc.). Technically, these are not scams, but people taking advantage of others who do not know that they can get these services for free. This is not illegal, so technically not a scam, but why would you pay if the service is available for free? If you can't move the pop-up sign-in/confirmation window outside the website window, it is almost certainly a scam! Normal pop-ups CAN be moved outside of main window (make it smaller then max. to see)
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The Ticket Scam
When buying tickets online for concerts, the cinema, or any other event, take great care, as fake and scam sites for these proliferate. Awlays look for the official ticket sales site first, for the event or the artist and check to see what sites are authorised to sell tickets for your event and to see if tickets can be transferred, changed, or refunded, as there are usually strict conditions and restrictions on all of these. The most important thing is NOT to buy any such tickets from Facebook/Facebay, eBay, Gumtree, or the like, as they will almost certainly be fake, or non-transfereable and you
will
almost certainly lose your money! When going to websites to buy tickets, check to see that you go to the
exact
web address stated by the organisers -
any
slight difference in the address will indicate that you are on a copy/fake site, so do
NOT
buy from these sites!
If you have any doubts, check first here for more information and to check whether the site you are looking at is genuine or fake: GetSafeOnline.org: Buying Tickets Safely Online
QR (Quick Response) codes Scam
QR codes, those convenient data 'squares' that you can scan with your phone, are very easy to generate and can steal your personal information, or your money. Be careful where you use these. If you are paying for something in a restaurant or shop, or on a genuine website, you're probably safe. However any codes on posters etc. in public places especially, could easily be fake and should not be trusted.
Lastly....
Lastly, after receiving any scam call - once you have checked that your phone line is free, by calling someone you already know, or by using a different phone (number) - call your bank, Amazon, or whoever it was that supposedly called you
FIRST
, to stop/freeze your account, freeze or cancel any bank cards and any current (fake) transactions and to change your password or other login details. Only
AFTER
calling them, call the police or report the fraud to actionfraud.police.uk, or call 0300 123 2040 (in England), or in Scotland, you can call the Police on 101. You need to do it in this order so as to stop any current or further transactions taking place on your account
before
reporting it to the police, otherwise your bank or other institution may well not refund you for any transactions that have taken place.
Don't forget, you can also quickly freeze most Credit and Debit Cards online, or via your APP, but
ONLY
if is quick and safe to do so. If your account has been compromised, this may not work, as you may not be able to log in, or the scammer may just reverse your changes anyway, so if you can login to do this, change your login password at the same time - so it just might be quicker to call your bank etc. and get it all changed from their end, just to be safe, or, open your APP and try calling them at the same time, using your speakerphone so that you can easily do this!
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This page was last updated on: 08 February 2024
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