Key tips to help protect you against any type of scam

7 July 2023

10 min read

We know there’s a lot of information about scams, and it can feel overwhelming. We’re always looking for ways we can help protect you and your money, so we’ve brought together our 8 key tips on how to protect yourself against any type of scam.

1. Be wary of unexpected contact

Scammers know that most people do know about scams and are cautious about sharing personal information with strangers. So, they’ll try to get around this.

They try to gain your trust quickly

Scammers will pretend to be someone else – ranging from:

  • A trusted company or organisation
  • One of your friends or family
  • A lawyer or investment broker
  • A potential love interest.

They try to take advantage of current affairs

Scammers develop new scams, especially relating to worrying events. You’re less likely to know what to expect in relation to unfolding events, and more likely to feel stressed if someone contacts you about them. For example, they’ve impersonated:

  • Delivery companies and coronavirus testing labs during the pandemic
  • Government services following the recent phone emergency alert test
  • ‘Get rich quick’ schemes and financial support schemes in response to the rising cost of living.

They give a list of excuses

Scammers will offer many reasons why you need to follow their unusual instructions – for example because you or they are in trouble, or because you shouldn’t miss out on their opportunity.

They try to catch you off guard

Scammers may call you early in the morning or late at night when:

  • You may be less alert, you may not be thinking clearly, and your guard may be down
  • You might assume someone would only call you in an emergency at this time.

2. Be vigilant online

Don’t assume everything you read online is true, or that every message you receive is genuine.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

They may already know your personal details

Scammers may know some of your personal information. But this doesn’t mean they’re genuine, so don’t automatically let your guard down just because someone seems familiar with you or your situation when they contact you.

They can spoof phone numbers

Scammers can sometimes make any name or number they like appear on your phone screen when they call you – for example, they can make it look like your bank is calling. So, it’s important to do some research rather than relying on the information on the caller display to check if the caller is genuine.

They develop convincing materials

Scammers can be very good at making convincing materials, such as:

  • Tempting adverts or impressive brochures
  • Attractive dating profiles
  • Bargain Facebook Marketplace listings
  • Websites that look just like genuine ones.

3. Stay calm and don’t be rushed

Scammers know how to ‘push your buttons’. They can find all sorts of ways to pressure you.

They take advantage of politeness

Scammers know that many people don’t like to be rude – they know you may find it especially hard to say no to someone once you’ve been chatting for some time.

They build a sense of urgency

Scammers will push you to act quickly, with their list of excuses why you need to act quickly.

It’s important to spot when this is happening to you. You may be speaking to a scammer if:

  • They have an answer for everything
  • They keep finding more reasons you need to do as they say
  • They won’t let you end the conversation or they keep calling you
  • They get angry or pushy with you.

Don’t let anyone force you to make a decision quickly. It’s safer to take the time you need to look into the situation than to leave yourself vulnerable to scammers.

4. Do some research

As good as scammers may be at copying genuine organisations or creating convincing materials, there are usually tell-tale signs that they’re not who they say they are.

Read our advice on different types of scam

You can start by reading our advice on staying safe from different types of scam.

Do more research online

You can search online for:

  • News websites – check for stories about scams relating to the person or organisation you're speaking to, or what they're asking you to do. For example, try searching for 'Co-operative Bank scam' or 'Wind farm investment scam'.
  • Official websites – if the person you're speaking to says they work for a trusted organisation, check whether their name, phone number, or email address matches what's on the official website.

5. Look for classic signs of a scam

Scammers’ tactics are constantly evolving, but there are a few things you can look out for.

Look for spelling mistakes

Spelling mistakes are one possible sign that what you’re reading is part of a scam. However, many scammers use perfect spelling, so don’t assume that means they’re genuine.

Look for different email addresses

Watch out for emails which aren’t from a genuine organisation. It’s the part of the email address after the ‘@’ which you need to pay attention to:

  • Most scammers use something that just sounds like it could be genuine, such as ‘’ instead of ‘’.
  • Some scammers use email addresses that are only slightly different to the genuine one, such as ‘’ instead of ‘’.

6. Ask someone you trust for help

When someone catches you off guard, you may not always recognise the signs of a scam.

Get a second opinion

It can really help to ask for a second opinion from a friend or family member, or read more about how to check if something might be a scam.

Give someone the power to manage your finances

We know that some people are more vulnerable to scams due to memory problems, illness or brain injury. If you’re worried about this, someone can be given the power to manage another person’s finances once they’re no longer able to manage them themselves, you can:

7. Try contacting the person or organisation separately

If someone has contacted you unexpectedly to ask you to send them money or personal information:

  1. Stop. Try to find their contact information on their official website.
  2. If they emailed or messaged you, try calling them using the phone number on their official website.
  3. If they called you, try using the contact details on their official website to email them, or to call them – remember that it’s important not to use the phone which they called you on, if possible, as some scammers can trick your phone into calling them instead, even if you use the correct phone number.

8. Stay alert if you’ve been scammed before

Scams can have devastating effects on people’s lives. Sadly, being the victim of a scam only increases your chance of being targeted again.

Stay alert to recovery scams

If you’ve lost money to a scam, you may be contacted by someone offering an opportunity to recover the money you’ve lost – this is another scam and can lead to losing more money.

Protect your identity

If you suspect that your personal information has gotten into the hands of scammers, you can help protect your identity and prevent someone from applying for bank accounts or credit in your name by applying for protective registration with Cifas.

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