Scammers are quick to adapt – and we’re constantly uncovering new scams.
If you’ve received an unexpected call that you’re not sure is from us, end the call and phone us back from a different phone, or call a friend to see if the scammers are hanging onto the line.
Fraudsters often use global events or tragedies as an opportunity to prey on your compassion and willingness to help others in need. They may use the situation in Ukraine as a cover story to get you to divulge personal details, move money out of your account, or ask for donations to fake relief efforts. Please be careful and check you’re donating to an accredited, legitimate charity.
WhatsApp friends and family impersonation scam
Scammers send messages where they impersonate your family members or friends. They’ll give a reason why they’re using a different number, like saying they’ve lost their phone, then mention a reason they need money, such as an unpaid bill or a lost wallet. Never send a photo of the front and back of your card – this will allow someone to make purchases using your card or even access your online banking.
If you get a message from friends or family asking for money, give them a call on a number you trust and speak to them before you make any payments.
If you believe you’ve been contacted on WhatsApp by someone using a fraudulent number, please help WhatsApp close down these numbers by reporting it directly to them. You do this by tapping the three vertical dots at the top right of the screen in the chat, choose ‘More’ and then ‘Report’. Once you’ve done that, you can repeat those steps to block the number from contacting you again.
Text messages about voicemail
Some scammers have been sending people messages with links to listen to a new voicemail. If you open the link your smartphone could be infected with malware that lets them access your bank account, other apps and personal information.
You can keep your account safer by always taking a moment to consider whether a text message you’ve received is genuine – especially if it contains a link.
Everyone’s talking about cryptocurrency at the moment, but it doesn’t mean you should listen to anyone offering to invest your money in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency, especially if they’re offering to open a wallet for you that you wouldn’t have access to.
Scammers are posing as sales staff to get you to buy into a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’. If you are looking to invest, it’s best to get the opinion of a qualified adviser and check the FCA website – don’t give out any details over the phone.
Cost of living scams
Fraudsters will try to take advantage of the cost of living crisis and might get in contact about a range of issues affecting us all. They might pretend to represent local councils offering financial support, energy companies, or retailers offering too-good-to-be-true discounts, or direct you to fake loan websites or offers.
The government has recently announced a range of measures to help families with the rising cost of living. If someone calls you pretending to be from the council and asks for your bank details so they can give you a refund, hang up. If they text or email you, don't click on any links. Councils will never call or email asking for your bank details.
The gov.uk website has more information about the rebates the government is offering, where you can see if you're eligible and find out how to claim them.
The rising cost of energy is also leading to scammers contacting consumers about energy price offers and refunds. If someone gets in touch about an offer for a great energy price deal or a refund, don't click on any links or give them any personal information over the phone. Genuine companies will understand if you want to look into the offer, or call back on a number you can find on their website.
If you're looking for retail offers and discounts, be wary of offers that seem too good to be true. Use reputable discount websites by typing the address in rather than using a search engine, or go directly to the retailer.
Scammers could set up fake loan websites. The interest rate may seem low, but they'll say you need to pay an admin fee before they can release the money – this will be a scam. Always check a company offering loans is fully regulated by checking the FCA website. If you're struggling financially, talk to your bank and see what support they can offer.
Remember – if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Scammers are sending texts that appear to be from ‘Barclays’. If you receive a text with a one-time passcode you didn’t ask for, or about a payment you don’t recognise, it’s probably a scam.
Scammers impersonate us to get you to trust them. Then they try to convince you to hand over your details so they can access your account, or transfer your funds to a ‘safe account’.
Always double check the company’s name, as scammers often get it wrong – for example, they might say ‘Curry’s’ instead of ‘Currys’ or ‘AIRBNB’ instead of ‘Airbnb’.
Don’t call any numbers, select any links or open attachments in messages you don’t recognise or aren’t expecting. We’ll never ask you to transfer your money to a ‘safe account’ – no legitimate company will.
More and more people are getting targeted by bereavement scammers. Never rush to make a payment and be careful of any unexpected requests for payments or claims for money owed.
See our first steps page for more about bereavement scams.
Covid vaccine passport scam
Scammers send an email claiming to be from the NHS, asking you to a click a link to apply for a ‘Digital Coronavirus Passport’. It then asks for personal and payment details to pay an admin fee. If you receive an email like this, don’t click on the link or give out any details.
Fraudsters call you to say your National Insurance number has been compromised and the National Crime Agency will be in touch. They then ask you to give your details or make a payment over the phone to receive your new National Insurance number. If you get a call like this, hang up – only scammers will try to rush or pressure you and your NI number stays the same for life.
The coronavirus situation has meant lots of us are using dating sites and social media to meet others. Not everyone is who they say they are and scammers can pose as others online. Always do your background research on the person you’re speaking to and don’t transfer money to someone you haven’t met in person – especially if they say they’re overseas and need the money for some kind of emergency or crisis. Speak to someone you trust first.
Take Five to protect yourself
We’re teaming up with UK Finance, who’ve launched their ‘Take Five to Stop Fraud’ campaign to help keep you safe from fraud and scams. Following these steps can help protect you and your money.
Take a moment to stop and think before giving out your personal or payment details.
Could it be fake? It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests you think seem suspicious – only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
If you believe you’ve been targeted by scammers, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at actionfraud.police.uk. If you’re in Scotland, please report it to Police Scotland directly by calling 101.
Get more tips at takefive-stopfraud.org.uk.
What to do with a suspicious message
If you get an email or text that claims to be from us but looks suspicious, please forward it, along with any attachments if possible, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also forward any suspicious emails to email@example.com. The National Cyber Security Centre will test the validity of the site and will remove it immediately if it’s a phishing scam.
The government’s website sets out how to protect yourself from fraud and cybercrime.
Visit our fraud and scams page for tips on how to spot scams and protect your money.
Check out our article on fraud and scams that explains how anyone could be vulnerable to scammers.