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Scams


Answer

Scammers are now taking advantage of the fact that online banking is providing the general public with easier access to their money. 

Scammers will contact you and may pretend to be from your bank, HMRC or the police, they may do this over the phone, email, text message or social media apps. They warn you that there has been suspicious or criminal activity with your bank account, and then explain they have set up an account (a safe account) that you can transfer your money to. This will always be their account, and even if they say it’s in your name you will not be able to access it.
 
Protect yourself:
 
  • Always be suspicious of a cold caller claiming to be from your bank or a position of authority.
 
  • Someone who is genuinely from a trusted authority or an official from your bank will never ask you to confirm your details.
 
  • Make sure you get the callers details and then check the details independently.
 
  • Banks do not set up safe accounts for people to transfer money to.
 
  • Never transfer money to someone unless you are 100% sure.
 
If you think you have been the victim of a scam such as this, we recommend that you contact your bank as soon as possible. You should also report it to Action Fraud. See Is this a scam? for details on the different types of scams and the related information for guidance on how to protect yourself from scammers. 


Answer

With the increase in online banking and the introduction of contactless payments, criminals are finding new ways to scam people out of their money. There are a few common scams relating to banking.

Cash Machines

Cash machines are good targets for criminals as they can fit devices to cash machines that may trap the bank card or copy the card details and record the PIN. They may also try to distract you by making conversation, allowing an accomplice to then take your card and cash. Another tactic is to ask if something on the floor is yours, distracting you in allowing them to get your money and/ or card. Ways to protect yourself against it are to make sure you are:
  • Be wary of anyone approaching when you are at a cash machine,
  • Always shield your PIN (Personal Identification Number), the best way is to stand close to the cash machine and cover the keypad with your purse/ wallet or spare hand,
  • If your card is ever retained by the machine do not leave the cash machine. Report it immediately by calling your card issuers number.
Cards and Contactless Payment

This method of payment has become increasingly popular and there are many myths around this use of payment.

One that is common is that people can come along with a card payment machine whilst the card is in your bag and take the information on your card to then commit fraud. This is not true because whilst a card reader that is contactless-enabled can read a card from 10cm away the information it receives is what is stored on the front of the card. Which is never enough to clone a card as it is incomplete for the information needed. As the card reader needs to be very close to the card this also makes it impossible for the details to be intercepted when in use, something that is also a common myth. There are a few tips you can follow to reassure yourself that no one has used your card through contactless payment:
  • Always go through your bank statements and check which are contactless, to make sure you recognise them all,
  • Don’t let anyone take your card out of sight for payment under any circumstances. They could use this time to copy the information stored in the magnetic strip or the CCV code on the back of the card,
  • If your card or phone, with card payments, enabled on it, are ever stolen inform your bank as soon as possible.   
Online banking

With online banking becoming increasingly popular so are criminals trying to scam people out of their money. Some banks may give one-time passcodes sent to your device so you can make payments, always keep these and any personal details, passwords or memorable information safe. Never share these with anyone even from your bank. If someone asks for these details, they are most certainly a criminal. You can protect yourself by:
  • Making sure any passwords or memorable information are chosen with care, try to make them as random as possible,
  • Always keep any banking apps or software up to date by downloading updates when prompted,
  • Remember to log out of your online banking account or app every time, simply closing the app/ web page or turning off your device may not be enough,
  • If you use any banking apps/ websites in public take care to shield your PIN, passcode or any passwords used,
  • It is difficult to tell if public WI-FI spots are secure so never use them for banking,
  • Never share any security codes, passwords or memorable information that can be sued to access your account with anyone,
  • If your bank ever calls you get a reference code from them, then hang up and call them back using a number you know is safe. Such as one on their website or listed on your banking information. Only call back once the line has been cleared, if you are unsure about this call using a different phone than the one they contacted you on.  
For more information please see the Is this a scam? question.


Answer

Zoom is a video conferencing app. Zoom Bombing is a cyber attack on your video call where an individual or a group of people enter it without the permission of the host. These individuals then display offensive or explicit images in order to cause distress to the recipients.

During the coronavirus emergency period, video conferencing is helping many people to work remotely and allows us to stay in touch with our families and friends. Unfortunately as worldwide use of video conferencing increases, so has the reporting of cyber attacks.

The links in Related Information provide details of how to secure your Zoom meeting and prevent unwanted joining.

If you have experienced zoom bombing, this can be reported to Zoom and depending on the nature of the content, your Local Police Force.


Answer

Phishing is a cyber crime where criminals contact people by email, telephone or text message, pretending to be a legitimate organisation. They try to get people to provide personal information such as bank details and passwords, and often include links that once clicked, download a virus to your computer and steal personal information. The information is then used to access accounts and can result in identity theft and financial loss.

Be aware of suspicious messages and emails and do not click on links or attachments in them. Never respond to unsolicited messages that ask for your personal or financial details.

If you do receive a suspicious email, this can be reported to National Cyber Security Centre via their Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) Any suspected frauds committed by email can be send to Action Fraud. See Q680 and Q749 for further information regarding fraud and see the links in Related Information to report any suspicious or fraudulent emails.


Answer

Many people and businesses have made contact with HM Revenue and Customs to seek financial guidance and support during the Coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, phishing emails and texts claiming to be from HMRC have become more prevalent, as scammers hope to profit from the unprecedented emergency period.

Examples of phishing emails can be found on the following link:

gov.uk/government/publications/phishing-and-bogus-emails-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples

Fraudsters ask for immediate action. Be wary of emails containing phrases like 'you only have 3 days to reply' or 'urgent action required'. Remember, phishing emails are common for all sorts of issues. As a rule of thumb, never click on links contained in suspicious emails or open attachments.

The link below provides genuine HMRC contact information and guidance on how to recognise phishing emails:

gov.uk/government/publications/genuine-hmrc-contact-and-recognising-phishing-emails/genuine-hmrc-contact-and-recognising-phishing-emails

Please see Q1023 for how to report a suspicious/ phishing/ scam email.

If you have already responded to a suspicious message, take the following steps:

  • if you have provided your bank details, contact your bank as soon as possible and let them know,
  • if you have lost money, tell your bank and report it as a crime to Action Fraud,
  • change your passwords, this goes for email and all accounts and create new, strong passwords,
  • if you have opened a link or followed instructions to install software, run a comprehensive virus scan,
  • if you have received the message on a work laptop or phone, contact your IT department and let them know.


Answer

A phone scam is where a fraudster calls you on the phone or sends a text, to try to trick you into giving them personal information, bank details or money. Scams are increasingly clever and sophisticated, and as a result, they catch people out. It isn't just the elderly who are susceptible to scams but it is the elderly who are often targeted.

Tips to reduce your risk of being scammed:

  • Never do anything you don't want to or make decisions on the spot.
  • Always check their credentials.
  • Ask someone you trust for a second opinion.
  • Do not give away any personal information.
  • Share your experience with others to lower their risk of being scammed.

Some callers will claim to be from your bank, for example, and to confirm that they are genuine, they will ask you to call them back using the proper telephone number for that bank/company. However, when scammers do this, they remain on the line when you hang up and dial the bank's number so that you remain connected to them. To ensure they are genuine, make another call to someone you know, before calling them back so that you know the original call has been disconnected. See Q887 for further details regarding this.

The missed call scam is when fraudsters telephone you but hang up before the call is answered. Many people will ring back in case it is urgent. These calls can incur premium-rate charges and payments can be applied for just connecting the call, regardless of how long you stay on the line. In some cases, you may hear a long recorded message to keep you on the phone for as long as possible so that the charges mount up. The scammers get a share of the revenue generated by the calls.

If you are concerned that you or a relative have received a scam call or text, hang up or delete the text. You can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit their website (see link in related information) to report it.

You can reduce unwanted phone calls by:

  • signing up the Telephone Preference Service, this registration service is free, please see the links in Relation Information for details;
  • investing in a phone that can block unknown numbers;
  • investing in a caller ID service from your phone provider, and only taking calls from numbers that you recognise;
  • removing your details from the public phone directory;
  • reporting silent / abandoned calls to Ofcom (see link in Related Information).


Answer

Your pension can be one of your most valuable assets and like anything valuable, it can become the target for illegal activities, scams and high risk investments.

Pensions scammers often target older people who have built up large amounts of money over the years, convincing them to move secure pension pots into fraudulent or extremely risky schemes. This can leave hard-working people with little or no chance to rebuild their pensions pots, causing them stress and financial hardship.

Scammers try to persuade pension savers to transfer their entire pension savings, or to release funds from it, by making attractive-sounding promises they have no intention of keeping. The pension money is often invested in unusual, high risk investments like:

  • overseas property and hotels
  • renewable energy bonds
  • forestry
  • parking
  • storage units

A pension scam can begin with unsolicited contact by phone, email or text from someone claiming to represent a financial services firm or Government body. The tactics used are becoming increasing sophisticated.

Here are a few simple signs to look out for, which include:

  • you are contacted out of the blue
  • you receive an offer that's too good to be true
  • offering you access to your pension before the age of 55
  • you are expected to invest in an unusual interest
  • you are asked to withdraw money first
  • you are told to act quickly for the best deal

If you transfer your pension savings into a scam, you run the very real risk of losing a significant, if not all of your pension savings, as well as facing high commission or arrangement fees.

Additionally, accessing your pension early is only allowed in very special circumstances, such as ill health. If you access and transfer your pension before the age of 55, this may classify as an 'unauthorised payment' from your pension fund. This may result in significant tax penalties and HMRC can impose a charge of up to 55% of the value of your pension.

Don't be rushed into making a decision or signing anything, a genuine adviser will not rush you. All pension savers are advised to check the Financial Services Register to make sure an adviser or company is registered before you agree to anything, see the link in related information.


Answer

A postal scam is a letter sent with the sole intention of gaining money through deception. Scam mail is mass produced and made to look like a personal letter or important document, to trick the recipient into sending cash, making money transfers or disclosing personal information.

Here are common types of postal scams to be aware of:

Lotteries and prize draws
These are two of the most common scams. Victims are told they have won a fantastic prize or large amount of cash but are asked to send some sort of fee to release it. A genuine lottery won't ever ask you to pay a fee to collect your winnings.

Psychics and clairvoyants
Scammers claiming to be able to see into the future, say they have information about your impending fate and you must pay them to find out what it is.

Parcel delivery scam
A card is posted through the victim's door stating that a delivery service was unable to deliver a parcel and that they need to contact the service by phone on the number provided on the card. This is usually a premium rate number with a long recorded message, causing the victim to receive an expensive phone bill.

Pyramid schemes
A scammer advertises an investment scheme and claims it offers extraordinary profits for little or no risk. You are required to pay a fee to enter the scheme and get financial rewards for recruiting friends or family to also enter the scheme. In reality the product you are investing in is usually worthless or non-existent and your money is not invested but simply passed on to the scammers.

Here are some steps to prevent you from falling victim to postal scams:

  • Never respond to scam letters, as you are likely to get more if you do.
  • Be wary of anyone who writes to you out of the blue, claiming that you have won something or can earn high rewards for a low investment.
  • Does the letter contain bad spelling or grammar? If so, it's likely to be a scam.
  • If a letter claims to be from a genuine source, contact the relevant organisation using details from their website and not those provided in the correspondence.
  • Are they asking you for money? Always start from the position that any request for money is suspicious unless proven otherwise. Don't send any money.
  • If you have received scam post and you are worried, talk to someone you trust, such as a friend or family member.

Although many people feel embarrassed about falling for a scam, it is nothing to be ashamed of, and you should not be worried about reporting it. Many people fall victim to scams, and fraudsters have a range of techniques to trick people and are trying new scams all the time.

If you believe you have fallen victim to a postal scam you can report the incident to Action Fraud, please see the link in related information.

Postal scams can also be reported to Royal Mail, who run a joint initiative with Trading Standards to investigate reports of scam mail.


Answer

Tech support scams usually involve an unsolicited phone call from a scammer claiming to be working for a well known tech support company. They try to convince you that your computer is not working properly or may be infected with viruses and claim to be able to fix this non-existent problem. The scammers may request payment for fixing the issue or may be attempting to install malware in order to steal your personal or financial information.

Pop-up warnings are used by scammers, these appear on your computer screen and appear to be from a legitimate tech company. It might look like an error message from your operating system or antivirus software, and it might use logos from trusted companies or websites. The message in the window warns of a security issue on your computer and tells you to call a phone number to get help. If you get this kind of pop-up on your computer, do not call. Legitimate companies do not display pop-up warnings that ask you to call a number.

Precautions you can take against tech support scammers include:

    • Do not click on links or call any numbers you are given.
    • Do not grant remote access to your computer.
    • Do not send any money.
    • Do not give out any personal or financial information.
    • Keep your security or virus checking software up to date.
    • Stop and take five. See link in related information.

If you are worried that you may have fallen victim to this type of scam, you can contact Action Fraud, see link in related information.

If you have given your bank details to an unsolicited caller, contact your bank as soon as possible.


Answer

Bogus Callers

  • 'Officials' may be smartly dressed and claim to be from the council, a utilities company, health authority or other organisation.
  • 'Dealers' may offer to buy antiques, furniture or jewellery.
  • A 'labourer / worker' may say that they need to enter the house to check something or make urgent repairs.

Bogus callers will be attempting to gain entry to the premises to steal, often working in pairs, with one person distracting the homeowner while the other gains entry to the property.

Always ask the caller for their identification and check it, before letting them in. You can also phone to company to verify their identity. Make sure that you check the number yourself, rather than using a number that they give you, as this may be false and be answered by someone working with them. A genuine caller will be happy to wait outside whilst you check their credentials. If you are in any doubt, do not let the caller in.

Some utilities companies have password schemes, so you can check the identity of the caller before opening the door. You can contact your supplier to find out if they provide this service.

Rogue Traders

These people may use pressure tactics to persuade homeowners to have unnecessary work done or to purchase goods. The rogue traders will often have no experience or training and will carry out poor quality work or sell sub-standard goods for large amounts of money and usually ask for payment in cash.

Here are some top tips to avoid becoming victim to a rogue trader:

  • Install a door chain or spy hole.
  • Never agree to have work done by somebody who is just passing or take their word that it needs to be done at all.
  • Never agree to have work done or part with any money on your doorstep.
  • Always get at least 2 written quotes from traders for any work.
  • Always agree the price, payment arrangements and start/finish dates in writing before any work starts on your home.
  • Ask friends and relatives for a recommendation.

For complaints about goods and services, the Citizens Advice Bureau provide free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Please see the links in Related Information for details.


Answer

This is almost certainly a scam and you should delete or ignore the communication. There are different versions of scams and you must remember- if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Below are some examples of the methods scammers may use:

  • 'Phishing' is the term used for a scam that attempts to induce you to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit cards numbers. In the case of a dating agency, it is preying on people who are lonely and want friendship. For any similar scenario, if you are asked for and give money (and it is a scam), it is unlikely you will ever see your money again.
  • Telling you that you are a long lost relative of a recently deceased person, you have been chosen to inherit a large amount of money from a person who does not have any living relatives.
  • Lottery scams may ask you to pay out in order to receive your winnings. No real lottery company would ask you to pay a fee before being able to claim your prize nor are large amounts of money handed out randomly. If you receive an email and it is not genuine, do not respond.
  • Informing you that your computer has been hacked and you need to pay a 'ransom' in bitcoin . Further information on, and examples of this can be found in related information.
  • You may receive a letter purporting to be from the police confirming the authenticity of a letter regarding a lottery win. The police do not authenticate commercial organisations.

To protect yourself from scammers, here are some useful tips:

    • If you were a long lost relative it is unlikely that the executors would make contact with you via email.
    • Is the phone number a mobile? A mobile call using a UK number can be made from anywhere in the world.
    • Solicitors and executors of wills do not just hand over large sums of money without very thorough checks.
    • Payment for the execution of a will comes out of the deceased person's estate, not from the people likely to receive a bequest.

It is better to thoroughly check out the situation rather than pay out a large sum of money on the basis of an email, electronic message, letter or phone call. Remember:

  • NEVER give out your personal details, bank account details or send any money to anyone who sends you such a communication, unless you are satisfied it is genuine. Many people have been defrauded out of a lot of money.
  • No matter how official it sounds check it out using a totally independent source.
  • They may lie about being based in the UK as this may make the scams seem more believable.
  • The addresses used are fake or reputable names of companies but with the wrong number.

Scam emails can be reported directly to Action Fraud, please see the link in related information.


Answer

No, a bank would never ask you to reveal your PIN number to them. Scam emails can look official and you should never respond to unsolicited emails that ask you for your personal or financial details.

Do not reveal your PIN number to anyone. Banks may ask you for certain characters of your PIN number for security reasons but never for the whole number.

The links in related information provide further details on the different types of scams and how to protect yourself from being a victim.

Please see Q1023 for information on how to report a scam email.


Answer

Yes.  This is a scam.  The cheque that will be sent to you will be either stolen or fraudulent. 

You will pay the money into the bank and the cheque will more than likely clear. You will send off the car/other property and the remaining money and keep the 10%. A few days later your bank will contact you and inform you that the cheque is in fact stolen or fraudulent and they will debit your account for the full amount of the cheque.

You will lose the car/other property, the full amount of the cheque and any remaining money that you send the person back.

If you are at all unsure of a buyer then do not go ahead, wait for a genuine buyer. If that buyer is from overseas speak to your bank about the best and most secure method of receiving payment. You can report fraudulent activity to Action Fraud - see Related Information for a link to their website and for more details on scams.


Answer

If you are a shop owner or employee and you know or suspect the person who has passed it to you, put the note in a bag to preserve any fingerprint evidence and hand the note into the nearest police station. If there is no suspect the police may not get involved and you should therefore hand the note into a bank.

As a shop owner/business owner you should contact your local crime prevention officer who will be able to advise you on preventing further instances of this happening, and can ascertain whether there are any other shops or businesses in the area that has received any so that appropriate action can be taken. Also see the website in Related Information for more details.

If you are a customer and have been passed a forged bank note in your change, hand the forged bank note into the local police station and give the details, if at all possible, of where you were given it. The police will keep the note as evidence.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES try to use or pass on a forged bank note to someone else, the penalty could be up to 10 years in prison and it just isn't worth the risk.


Answer

Many police forces do now offer a service whereby they email members of the public to inform them of any known scams that are currently circulating. The name of the service varies from force to force with some referring to it as 'Alert' or 'Community Messaging.' These will appear under that force's messaging system rather than as a direct email from the Police.

Before circulating messages, even with good intent, it is worth 'googling' it as you are likely to easily identify those messages that are a hoax or scam.

It is important to remember that not all emails will be genuine and it is recommended that, if you do receive one, you check with the police force directly (via 101) who will be able to confirm whether or not it is a scam. If it is a scam email, you can report it directly to the Action Fraud website. Please see the links in related information.


Answer

Just because a car is advertised on a reputable site such as Autotrader or Ebay does not automatically mean that the seller is genuine. Many criminal gangs have been using reputable sites to advertise cars that don't belong to them or don't even exist.

Once the buyer decides that they want the car they are then taken to a fake website where they hand over the cash for a car that they will never see. The website is supposed to hold on to the cash until the vehicle is received (supposedly an independent place to hold the money whilst the deal is done), but it goes straight into the bank accounts of the criminal gangs, most of whom are based abroad.

There are a few ways to spot a fraudulent car sale:

  • Check the address and postcode are correct
  • Check the contact numbers – for a big company there should be a land line AND a mobile number
  • Look out for suspicious voicemail messages and spelling mistakes in emails/messages
  • Be wary if you cannot meet the buyer in person or if you can't physically view the car prior to purchase
  • HPI check can tell you whether a car is stolen, has any finance owing or if it has been written off – see the website in related information but please note there is a charge for their service

VSTAG (The Vehicle Safe Trading Advisory Group) is a forum designed to combat vehicle-related fraud and offer protection from this during the buying/selling process. You will find a link to their website in the related information section.


Answer

The Trading Standards Institute gives detailed advice regarding cold callers and advice on your rights regarding them.

'Doorstep sellers' are becoming an increasing problem, usually targeting older people. Someone comes to your door with the aim of scamming you out of money or trying to gain access to your home to steal items. In some cases, the sellers portray to be reformed criminals who are looking to start their lives again.

You can put up a 'no cold callers' sign which should deter them from knocking on your door, and if a cold caller ignores this sign it is a criminal offence. Whilst the police may not be able to take action in each individual case of the sign being ignored, the information can be used to target these sellers and prevent them from committing crimes.

If you are the victim of this and the callers refuse to leave, you can contact the police. If you are not in immediate danger, we would advise that you make a report via the non-emergency 101 number or on the 999 number in an emergency.

For further guidance please see the links in 'related information' to helpful websites.


Answer

A scam is a scheme designed to con you out of money. You will be contacted out of the blue either by telephone, email or in person. Fraudsters can be very convincing so it is important to be wary and investigate any suspicious behaviour to stop you potentially losing large sums of money.
If you are offered a deal that seems too good to be true, it more than likely is so be sure to check over all the facts and do not feel rushed into making a decision. Below are examples of the different types of scams you may come across:

  • Investment scams: smooth-talking sales people with brochures offer the opportunity to buy shares and investments that do not actually exist
  • Prize draw scams: Being told you have won a prize draw/competition but in order to receive the money you must dial a number - there will be a charge for this that they don't inform you of (if the company was genuine, they would make you aware that there is a cost to call them).
  • Insurance scams: companies offering insurance on products that you didn't originally buy from them. Check that the company is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA ) before agreeing to anything
  • Visa scams: examples of this type of scam include –
  • A person pretending to be a Home Office officer asks you to meet them/comes to your home to ask for money to process you or your partner's visa. Officers from the Home Office never collect money from you at home and will only meet you at their offices.
  • A person calls claiming that there is a serious problem with your visa and that you need to send money as soon as possible to prevent deportation, cancellation. They appear to be genuine and convincing.
  • Applicants for work visas will be asked to pay a deposit as proof that they have sufficient funds to support them in the UK. This is a scam. As part of the official process, you would only be asked for evidence not money.
  • Agents who say they can get a visa using forged documents and agents who say they can speed up the process, can't.
  • Vehicle matching scam: after advertising a vehicle you receive a call saying there is an immediate buyer. They then ask for an upfront fee which will be refunded if the car isn't sold; the car isn't sold and no refund is given
  • Pyramid scams: You are asked to pay into a scheme and promised that you receive money when you get to the top of the scale, however you never can reach the top.
  • Courier scams: fraudsters are sending couriers out to collect your bank card or money after calling to inform you there has been a fraudulent payment on your card (see Q887 for more details on telephone/courier scams).
  • Pension scams: the most common tactics include - offer of a 'free pension review,' promise of high returns on your investment, saying you can access your pension before the age of 55 or wanting to transfer your money overseas. They may tell you they are part of the Pension Wise Scheme - be wary as pension wise would never contact you out of the blue. 
  • Website scams: designed to look official but ask for payment on items that would be free on the genuine site e.g. EHIC card. Be wary of fraudsters cloning bank websites and sending emails pretending to be from banks and stealing credit card details.
  • Computer virus scams: small computer programs that are used to help scammers undertake their scam. In order to protect yourself you need to –
  • create passwords that are long, unique, a mix of letters and numbers and that you change regularly.
  • use anti-virus software that is kept updated and when installing new software, use a secure site which begins with https:
  • leave your firewall switched on and don't open suspicious or unknown emails, attachments, texts etc
  • before entering payment card details on a website, check that the link is secure (indicated by a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, NOT on the page itself.) If you click on the padlock, check the security certificate.

If you suspect a scam you should report it to both the Financial Conduct Authority and Action Fraud (see websites in related information) If the company is not registered with FCA, you can report them on 0800 111 6768. Do not give out personal details or money if you are unsure; once the money is transferred it is usually extremely difficult to reclaim it.


Answer

Fraudsters are contacting members of the public claiming to be from their bank or in some cases, to be a police officer. They inform you that there has been a fraudulent payment made from your bank account and will advise you that your bank card needs replacing, or that you need to withdraw large sums of money to help resolve the problem. Either way they will then send a courier to collect the money/bank card. This is known as a 'courier scam' and is the most common type of telephone fraud in Britain.

They will attempt to gain your trust by asking you to ring the bank back who will be able to offer further assistance; this makes the call seem genuine when in actual fact the fraudster keeps the line open so the victim is unknowingly reconnected to them. They are likely to ask you to clarify your full bank details including your PIN.

If you do receive such a call end it immediately, do not phone the number back and wait a few minutes to make sure the line is clear before making any calls, unplug the phone if you are not sure or use a mobile phone. If you are concerned you have been the victim of a courier scam, we would advise that you inform your bank immediately and report it using the Action Fraud website.

Be aware that your bank will never attend your home, nor will they or the police ever ask you to verify your PIN. See Is this a scam? for details on the different types of scams and the related information for guidance on how to protect yourself from scammers.


Answer

Using online dating websites is becoming a popular way to meet people and potentially find love. Scammers take advantage of this and use the sites as an opportunity to scam victims out of money by claiming they have developed feelings for them, or even pretending to be someone else entirely (also known as 'cat fishing').

The same common sense approach must be used as with any scam - if it seems to good to be true, it probably is! If someone is asking you to transfer money, it is likely they are not who they say they are and it is important to be wary of what they are telling you, no matter how believable their story seems.

Below are a few tips to ensure you stay safe online and know what signs to look out for:

  • Pick a reputable dating website.
  • Avoid over sharing and divulging your personal information.
  • Never send money or give out your bank details; once the money is sent, it is highly unlikely you will be able to retrieve it.
  • Do their pictures look too good to be true, or you think you have seen them somewhere else? Use this service to find out: search an image on Google
  • Ask lots of questions and suggest arranging a phone call to determine whether they are genuine.
  • Be sceptical - if you are suspicious, report your concerns initially to the dating website.
  • If you have lost money due to an online scam, you can report it to Action Fraud.

For further information, please see the related websites section.

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