Purchase scams

When fake or non-existent items are advertised for sale. 

How it could happen to you

  • You see an advert online for something that looks legitimate, but the link takes you to a bogus website. You may have even found the advert after someone you know has posted it
  • Fake adverts can still be found on legitimate buying and selling websites. Be careful when shopping online for clothes, designer items, vehicles, and gym or music equipment

How to protect yourself

  • Always  pay by debit or credit card, or the secure payment method recommended by reputable online retailers and auction sites, as this could give you more protection
  • Never agree to buying vouchers or expensive items such as jewellery or gold for someone as a way to pay for something else
  • If you can, view the item in person first to make sure it exists, especially if it’s a large purchase, such as a car
  • Research and read reviews to check the site and the seller are genuine
  • Always open the website you’re buying from by typing it into your web browser. Be wary of clicking on links in unsolicited emails or on social media
  • If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is

What does it look like? 

We've written a story that shows what a purchase scam might look like. It describes common tactics we know scammers use, based on insights from our fraud and scams team.

Types of scams to watch out for

These are among the most common tricks currently used by scammers but they constantly come up with new ways to contact you, so be vigilant.

Impersonation scams

When someone pretends to be the police, a bank, a friend or business, to convince you to send them money. 

Investment scams

When you’re invited to invest in things that are worthless, or don’t exist.

Purchase scams

When fake or non-existent items are advertised for sale.

Advance fee scams

When fake companies ask for an upfront fee and then don’t provide the service you’ve paid for.

Invoice scams

When account details on an invoice are changed, or emails are intercepted, so the money is wrongly paid into the scammer’s account.

Romance scams

When someone pretends to be interested in a romantic relationship with you. They gain your trust and then ask for money.

Pension scams

A scammer says they can make you money, and convinces you take a lump sum out of your pension – then steals it.

Doorstop scams

A rogue trader knocks on your door and pretends your house needs work – then overcharges you for it and often doesn't finish the job.

Bereavement scams

A scammer contacts you after someone has died, and says you owe money to pay off a debt or access a payout.  

Phishing, smishing, and vishing

You receive an email, text message, or call claiming to be from a well-known company or organisation such as a bank or the police.

You may also like…

Padlocks locked onto a red-painted fence

Protect yourself from fraud

Learn about the different types of fraud

More and more people are being targeted by fraudsters, so it’s important to be alert. Knowing about the different types of fraud can help you protect yourself and your money.

A young woman writes notes as she takes a phone call at a table in a café

Think you’ve been a victim?

How to report fraud or a scam

Find out what to do if you’re worried about a card payment, how to report fraud and scams and what happens after you tell us, plus get tips on how to help protect yourself.

 A logo of a hand that says Take five to stop fraud

Take Five to stop fraud

National awareness campaign

Take Five is led by UK Finance and backed by the Government and other organisations. If you receive a phone call, text or email you think might be fake, it urges you to stop – take five – and challenge what you’re told.

Find your way around money

…and make money work for you

Your money – the way you spend it, save it and (try to) look after it can be complicated.