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How to protect yourself against scams

Stop, Challenge, Protect

In 2020, criminals stole £1.2 billion from the public.

Fraud and scams can have a devastating impact on their victims both financially and emotionally. And as fraudsters use more and more sophisticated techniques to scam you they can be harder to identify.

We’ve teamed up with Take Five to Stop Fraud to help you identify and protect yourself from scams.

What should I look out for?

Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. Their methods are sophisticated and designed to convince you to part with your personal and financial details. They can pretend to be anyone, including the police, your bank, a delivery company, communication service provider or a government department.

In general, there are two main types of scam — authorised push payment and unauthorised.

An authorised push payment scam is where you’re tricked into sending money directly from your bank account to an account controlled by a fraudster. This could be when someone you’re talking to on an online dating site asks you to send them money or when you’re buying something online and the seller asks you to pay by bank transfer instead of through the site’s secure payment methods.

This type of scam is different to an unauthorised scam, where money is taken from your account without you knowing.

These scams often begin with a phone call, text or email out of the blue. Criminals can use a tactic called ‘spoofing’ to make their call or text appear genuine by cloning the number or sender ID which is displayed on your phone. In some cases criminals even trick you by sending couriers to collect your cards, PINs or valuable items in person.

How can I protect myself?

If you get a request for money or personal details before you do anything you should Stop, Challenge, Protect.

Stop — Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

Challenge — Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Protect — Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

If you do fall for an online scam, our #ScamsAction service is here to help. We provide free, impartial and confidential one-to-one support on scams. We can help you report the scam and help you understand the next steps. If you’ve lost a significant amount of money or are struggling as a result of being scammed we can also help direct you to other services such as our debt service.

The Citizens Advice #ScamsAction service is here to help. You can contact us over the phone, online or use our online scams helper tool to check if something is a scam.

Take Five to Stop Fraud is a national campaign that offers straight-forward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud. This includes email deception and phone-based scams as well as online fraud — particularly where criminals impersonate trusted organisations

Article by Emily Nix

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