How to Recognise a Scam

The Con

How scam artists succeed – they will:-

  • Catch you unawares, contacting you, without you asking them to, by phone, email, post or sometimes in person
  • Sound pleasant, well spoken and kind (on the phone or at your door) and want you to think they’re your friend
  • Have slick, professional letters and leaflets
  • Be persistent and persuasive
  • Rush you into making a decision
  • Ask you to send money before you receive their tempting offer or win

New scams from the UK and overseas appear every day – so it’s important to know how to spot them.

The Pitch

They offer you something for nothing – such as:

  • You’ve won a prize in a draw or lottery (even though you haven’t entered one)
  • An exclusive entry to a scheme that’s a sure-fire way to make money
  • A way to earn easy money by helping them get untold millions out of their country
  • The chance to join an investment scheme that will make you huge amounts of money; and so on

There are hundreds of examples but we can all protect ourselves by being sceptical. Is it likely that someone you don’t know, who has contacted you out of the blue will give you something for nothing?

The Sting:

They’ll ask you to:

  • Send money up front – an administration fee or tax, the list is endless but it’s always a ruse to get you to give them money
  • Give them your bank details or other personal details
  • Ring a premium rate number (all UK premium rate numbers start with 090)
  • Buy something to get your prize

They will lie to you and give you what seem to be good reasons why you should do what they say. They will answer all your objections.

If they ask you to do any of these things they’re trying to cover their tracks and get your money and it’s likely to be a scam. Don’t send any money or give personal details to anyone until you’ve checked them out and talked to a professional or family and friends.

Stop, think and be sceptical.

If you discover a scam tell your friends and family. If you have been a victim of a scam you should report it to one of the organisations listed below who can also provide advice.

Your local police station on 0845 1 25 35 45

The Office of Fair Trading - Telephone 0845 7 22 44 99 (Link to

Financial Services Authority - Telephone 0845 606 1234 (Link to

Your local Trading Standards Department - Telephone 0845 4 04 05 06 (Link to – not live)

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau - Telephone 01772 822416 (Link to