Type of Resource


Publication Date

September 21, 2023


Harmful or inappropriate content  

Some people online will try to trick or scam us. Young people can be particularly vulnerable to scams, and the first step in supporting them to be ‘scam aware’ is knowing the different ways someone might try to scam both them and you.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) say that people are more likely to fall victim to fraud than any other crime. They estimated that fraud costs around £190bn each year- that’s a lot!

Action Fraud now operate an interactive dashboard illustrating the key statistics on fraud and cyber-crimes reported are covered over a 13-month period. From July 2021-July 2022 405,334 reports were made to Action Fraud with a massive £3.1 billion reportedly lost by victims. Most reports came from individuals (88%) and 12% came from organisations.

What should you know

Scams change all the time, and tricksters are skilled in using tactics that are easy to hide. They will often change their tactics based on which ones work best.

Scams have a few things in common:

How to Protect Yourself from Scams

Protect yourself by limiting the amount of personal information that is made public or shared with close contacts on social media. Your personal information is very valuable and social media platforms encourage us to share this on our profile.

Think: Are any of the answers to password/security questions listed on your Facebook profile e.g. your school, where you were born, your pets name, your mother’s maiden name etc. If there is, accepting friend requests from people you don’t know, or even sharing this information publicly could put you at risk.

Always destroy documents that contain personal information; you can shred or destroy them in other ways. There’s not a lot someone can do with your bank account and sort code, but this ‘puzzle piece’ can be combined with other information that is available online to impersonate you.
Use Google to copy some of the text and see if anyone else has experienced a similar scam. This will help you uncover the tricks being used. You can search for popular scams and see if someone else has received the same phone call, email, text or voicemail. If the scammer is posing as a particular company, contact that company to find out if the communication is legitimately from them or not.

Keep your computer’s antivirus and firewall up to date, run regular scans and action updates ASAP.

These updates include security patches for the software you use. Don’t send or enter sensitive personal information on unsecured websites or networks- reliable websites always start with HTTPS not HTTP (look out for the padlock beside the web address).

Remember everything you send on public Wi-Fi network can be intercepted. Consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) if sending personal information over public Wi-Fi.

It’s easy to let your guard down if someone sounds confident on the phone. If someone calls and asks to speak to you, guard your personal information. Someone should not ask you to provide personal details to verify your identity- they called you. Be careful of long silences, bad connections and odd sounding people.

In certain circumstances banks may call you- it’s OK to hang up and call them back using a trusted phone number.

Use enhanced security options

2 factor authentication means using a code generator or your phone number to verify your identity. This means even with your password, a fraudster still needs access to an additional code. The extra layer of security can help you feel more confident and protect your information.

Popular Scams

Scams take many forms and can range from door-to-door calls, or scammers contacting you online, via text or on the phone. There are also reports of scams via mail. Below you will find some of the most common scams.
Someone may call you and claim to be from your bank. They may tell you that there is a problem with your account and ask for information. Remember, your bank will never ask you for your card PIN, nor will they suggest you transfer money to a ‘safe account’. If in doubt, hang up and call your bank to verify the problem.
These can be calls from a company about an accident you have had, offering compensation. These aren’t always scams, but you should contact your insurance company if you have been in an accident.
This is when an email or message is used to trick you into providing personal information. You might receive a text or email claiming to be from your bank or other trusted provider like HMRC or your local council. Make sure you check the sender’s email address. It should match the official website of the provider e.g. [email protected] will not be from
This a common trick used by scammers to redirect traffic from a legitimate website to a fake version where they can collect information. This is different from phishing, because you are likely to be trying to access a real website. Watch out for this tricky attempt. Often these websites will model the original but look low budget and may not have many pages. e.g. will never be
This is when victims are groomed into false relationships by someone who aims to gain their trust, eventually stealing their money or accessing their personal information. Catfishing is when someone (maybe even someone you know) pretends to be someone else online and attempts to trick you into revealing personal and sensitive information or images. A quick reverse image search of their profile picture will show you where else it has been used. Be aware of ‘things moving too fast’ and remember that personal or sensitive things you say or share (including images) could be used against you. If this happens, the emotional impact can be overwhelming. It’s illegal to blackmail people online. If this happens to you, you should contact the police immediately who will be able to help.

This is when phishing attacks are highly targeted and aimed at managers, leadership teams and CEOs. It is said to be one of the biggest risks facing businesses and institutions because of the use of sophisticated emails and sometimes follow up phone calls. Scammers use similar emails that appear to come from existing senior members of staff asking their teams for urgent payments or the purchase of gift cards.

Users should not click any links or reply to suspected cases, instead they should verify requests to protect themselves and their organisation. Checking the email matches the real person will help establish if this is a real request.

For more information about password security, check out our online safety article:

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