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At a glance: Learn more about fraud so you can keep yourself safe and find out what to do if you have been a victim of fraud.
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What is fraud?

Fraud is when someone tricks you so that they can benefit financially or in another way. Fraud can happen by phone, text, email, website or face to face. If you are aware of types of fraud, you can try to avoid them.

Types of fraud

There are lots of different types of fraud (also known as ‘scams’). Here are some of them: 

  • Phishing emails 
    These are fake emails that look like they have been sent from a trusted organisation, like your bank. They often ask you to click on a link and provide information.  
  • Identity theft 
    Identity theft happens when somebody gets your personal details, such as your name, address and date of birth. This information can then be used to carry out identity fraud.  
  • Identity fraud 
    This is when your personal details are used without your knowledge to do things like take money from your bank account or take out new credit in your name.  
  • Investment scams 
    This is when people try to get you to invest money in things that do not exist, even if they might look real.   
  • Loan scams 
    Loan scams are where people offer you a loan that does not exist. They approve your application and ask for an up-front fee.  
  • Pension scams 
    Fraudsters may try to get you to transfer money from your pension. They may offer you a special chance to increase your pension if you transfer your funds quickly.  
  • Prize draw or lottery scams 
    This is where fraudsters tell you that you have won a fake prize. They may ask you to pay a fee to release your prize or give your bank account details and personal information.  
  • Refund of council tax schemes 
    Fraudsters may contact you to say that you have been paying too much council tax. They say they can help you get a refund if you pay a fee.   

How can I prevent fraud?

There are lots of things you can do to help protect yourself. Here are some of them: 

  • Before you give anyone personal information, such as your name, address and bank details, check who they are. 
  • If someone calls you and you are unsure if they are genuine, hang up.  
  • Be careful of emails asking you to click on a link to confirm your personal information or bank details. Banks, HMRC and the police do not send emails like this.  
  • Think about what information you share on social media.  
  • Destroy any papers that show personal details like your credit card information. 
  • Use up to date anti-virus software and a firewall on your computer.  
  • Do not access sensitive sites like your bank account when using public Wi-Fi in places like pubs and train stations. 
  • Check with authorities like the Financial Conduct Authority or MoneyHelper to see if financial products can be trusted.  

What can I do if I’ve been a victim of fraud?

  • If you think you have been scammed, contact your bank or the relevant organisation immediately and explain what has happened. They may be able to put a stop on your accounts. 
  • If someone has taken out credit in your name or taken money from your bank account without your permission, contact your bank or the creditor straight away. Give them the crime reference number if you have one and ask them to investigate the matter.  
  • You are not usually liable for money taken out in your name through identity fraud. 
  • If money has been taken from your bank account or credit card without your permission you are usually entitled to a refund. Tell the bank immediately because you may have to pay up to £35 of any unauthorised payments taken before you notify the bank.  
  • If you have been tricked into making a bank transfer (by electronic payment) from your account to a fraudster, contact us for advice. This type of fraud is often called an authorised push payment scam and different rules apply. 
  • You can report the crime to the police by calling 101. If you feel threatened or unsafe, call 999. 
  • Consider contacting Cifas and signing up for their Protective Registration, for a small fee. This aims to reduce the risk of further identity fraud.  

Learn more about this topic

If you want to learn more about this topic, you can read our in-depth guide.

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