Stay safe from fraud with our useful guides

Countingup’s guide to fraud and scams

Usually, by the time you realise you’ve been scammed or defrauded, it’s likely too late. Fraudsters and scammers alike have already planned and set-up the spending or transfer of your funds before they even hit their account. But there are signals you can look out for to avoid fraud.

Read through this guidance to understand how you can protect yourself and remember: we’ll never request that you provide or forward security information via text, instant messages, email, phone call or social media.

We’ll only use the following email addresses to communicate with you:

🗣 Reporting fraud or scams

If you think you’ve been the victim of fraud or a scam, email us at support@countingup.com right away. See below what you should do in specific cases of fraud and scams.

Use the Subject Line “Urgent Scam Report” as soon as you realise a payment you made is a scam or that a payment you did not authorise is fraudulent, and see our help article here.

If you see card payments you don’t recognise in your Countingup app, freeze your card and see our help article here.

For the security of your account, let us know if your card or phone has been lost or stolen right away. See our help article here.

If you believe that a Countingup account may have been set-up fraudulently in your name or with any of your personal data, please let us know following the instructions found here.

If you’re worried that any payment sent to a Countingup account might be fraud or the result of a scam, contact us and we’ll investigate (see here). If you haven’t already, you should let your own account provider or bank know at the same time.

ℹ️ Further support and information

  • Our help and support centre, which includes the guidance in support of vulnerable customers
  • You can also find articles on a wide-range of fraud and scams published by Action Fraud here
  • Impartial advice is available from Take Five here
  • You should report fraudulent activity to Action Fraud 
  • Review advice from CIFAS if you have been a victim of impersonation/identity theft (please note we have no affiliation to this website or service)
  • Check if your email or password has ever been compromised as the result of a data breach using Have I Been Pwned? (please note we have no affiliation to this website or service)

 

🖥 Cyber security advice

Cyber security is essential; you can find lots of useful advice and tips online which explain practical steps you should take. 

We’ve selected a few resources to help get you started:

✉️ Countingup communications

It’s essential that you keep your card and account’s security information safe and protected. This includes one-time passcodes and device verification emails.

We’ll never request that you provide or forward security information via text, instant messages, email, phone call or social media. 

If you receive contact from anyone claiming to be from Countingup and requesting any security information – card details, security codes, passwords or suggesting your account has been compromised:

By taking a moment to stop and question whether or not the person contacting you is a genuine Countingup employee, you could protect yourself and your money. 

A Countingup employee will never put pressure on you and will be comfortable with you hanging up/not responding to the message until you’ve verified that the correspondence is genuine. As a regulated entity we have strict policies on how to communicate with our customers.  

To check if you are talking to one of Countingup’s employees you can visit our website and contact our support email directly. Don’t call or email any numbers provided by the person alleging that they’re a Countingup employee. 

Please explain to our support service how you were contacted, the name of the individual you have been liaising with and what you’ve been asked to provide/do. 

We’d never ask you to move money or confirm a payment via the app. Due to the nature of the service we offer, Countingup has direct access to your account and funds – we can freeze/block your card and account and move funds to a suspense account if there were any such need or concern with the security of your account. 

Only a criminal will rush or put pressure on you. They want to make you panic and induce you to transfer funds or disclose security information, which will open your account to the fraudster’s control of your funds.

If you’re concerned or have received unusual contact, please immediately contact Countingup and report the incident to Action Fraud.

⛔️ Key avoidance and prevention measures

It’s likely that a fraudster or scammer has contacted thousands of people, they only need one person to respond to make it worth their while to continue spamming people. 

This section provides some key measures, but please note that this information is not exhaustive.  

Do not engage. Do not assume. Do not be pressured.

Do not engage

  • If you receive unsolicited messages, emails and letters with links or phone numbers, be careful about clicking the link or responding. You should always check with the sender using their official contact information found on their website to verify the correspondence as genuine
  • Legitimate companies and account providers, including Countingup, will usually send follow-up messages

Do not assume

  • Where your money is concerned, it’s worth doing your own due diligence and checks until you are certain that the person you are talking to or the communication you received is authentic
  • Even if you think the email address or phone number looks genuine, check! It’s easy to manipulate and “spoof” these to make it seem like the contact is from a recognised email or number 
  • Use reliable contact information, such as those directly found on the sender’s official website or calling known contacts to verify an email you’ve received 

Do not be pressured

  • Often, taking the time to check and verify something will give you the chance to identify that something isn’t quite right 
  • No legitimate authority/organisation/company, regardless of the circumstances, would ask you to act quickly, imposing unrealistic deadlines and giving you little to no chance to think. Ask questions or talk to a third party for help

🪧 Types of scams and fraud

APP is a term used to cover a number of scam types which have been on the rise in the UK in recent years. 

We’ve provided some articles which explore some of the specific scams in more detail (e.g. invoice redirection). The below section provides an overview.

How it works

APP scams involve criminals persuading victims to transfer money to them, either by providing false information or by pretending to be from a legitimate organisation.

This method, which is also referred to as social engineering, is perpetrated using the following channels:

Phishing (emails), Smishing (text messages) and Vishing (voice calls). See below for more information. 

Look out for these common examples 
  • Bank – requesting you transfer funds to a ‘safe’ account because your account has been compromised
  • HMRC – claiming you have an outstanding tax or VAT bill and threatening arrest if not immediately transferred
  • Police – call to assist in an ongoing investigation by withdrawing funds from the account and handing them over to the “police officer”
  • Friend/Child in need – a message to say they no longer have access to their phone and need urgent funds to get it fixed with the promise to pay it back
  • Internet provider – a problem with your internet connection, remote access is needed to your computer
  • Purchase of goods – request to pay by bank transfer instead of card payment, or request to make a substantial deposit to secure the purchase 
How to avoid falling victim to APP scams
  • Remember that neither Countingup or the police/authorities will ever ask you to move money to a safe account or to assist in an investigation
  • If you’re feeling pressured to act quickly, hang up and contact Countingup or relevant authority to verify
  • If it’s someone claiming to be a friend or family member, contact them directly on a number you know is legitimate, so you can verify the request
  • Always be wary of any requests you receive to transfer money, even if they initially appear to come from a legitimate source
  • Always verify the identity of the person you’re dealing with and check whether the request is genuine before making any payment
  • Legitimate organisations will never threaten you or put you under pressure to make an immediate transfer
What to do if you’re targeted
  1. Contact Countingup straight away. If you sent funds from another account provider please contact them immediately
  2. Report the incident to Action Fraud
  3. Inform any relevant organisations, such as HMRC, that may have been affected
  4. Check to see if you have any unrecognised apps installed on your device and delete these
  5. Consider Protective Registration through CIFAS if your personal details were shared

An advance fee scam requires an upfront payment before any services are provided. After the funds are transferred, the services never materialise either following numerous excuses and/or blocking the method of contact. 

How it works

Scammers will appear genuine when discussing with an individual what they’re offering. Once you’ve made the decision to go ahead with them, they’ll push for money to be transferred prior to services being provided. This is usually a smaller fee in comparison to the full amount the scammer has quoted. The scammer has no intention of providing the service and so, once the funds are transferred, they disappear.  

Look out for these common examples 
  • Pushy or agitated behaviour from the person you’re requesting a service from
  • Lack of online presence, reviews or evidence of previous services 
  • Lack of communication or blocking communication once the funds have been transferred
How to avoid falling victim to an advance fee scam
  • Complete extensive research of the company you’re looking to use 
  • For rental properties, never sign an agreement unless you’ve seen the property in person
  • Be sure to read through any contract/agreement thoroughly before signing (and if there is no contract ask for one which should be regulating the services provided)
  • Ensure there are refund options available or if there are not, understand when a refund is not accepted
  • If in doubt, don’t feel pressured to send the money upfront
What to do if you’re targeted

If you’re targeted by an advance fee scam, it’s important not to panic and to take immediate action.

  1. Contact Countingup straight away if the company has stopped communication or blocked you on the platform that you were originally communicating on. If you sent funds from another account provider please contact them immediately
  2. Do not send any further payments to the third party
  3. Report the incident to Action Fraud

Criminals can con people into investing large and regular sums to fake schemes. Victims of this type of fraud can lose their entire life savings as they are often encouraged to continue investing more money.

How they work

Criminals present a wide variety of bogus opportunities, ranging from overseas property, carbon credits, wine, banking and high-return investments. 

They’ll often present convincing material in order to get individuals to depart with large sums of money. Scammers will even pay “returns” to encourage further investment. 

It can take a few years to uncover these fraudulent schemes, as most have been alleged to be long-term investments.

Look out for these common examples 
  • Cold calls from unauthorised persons offering ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunities
  • Unsolicited emails offering ‘risk-free’ returns on investments
  • A promise to recover your funds from a failed investment opportunity or even another scam
  • Sophisticated tactics that give a false impression the company is genuine. Including brochures and contractual agreements that appear genuine, staged offices and they may even pay a small amount back to you to encourage you to make further/larger transfers
How to avoid falling victim to an investment scam
  • Always remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true then it probably is
  • Fraudsters rely on the fact that it could take you a long time to realise you have been a victim because you don’t expect a return straight away
  • Don’t rely on the materials, reviews or any information provided directly by the company but instead on independent research 
  • Check whether they’re regulated, if applicable 
  • Consider using well recognised and established broker services to handle your investments  
What to do if you’re targeted

If you’re ever targeted by an investment scam there are several steps you should take:

  1. Contact Countingup straight away if the company has stopped communication or blocked you on the platform that you were originally communicating on. If you sent funds from another account provider please contact them immediately
  2. Don’t send any further payments 
  3. Don’t engage with any services that promise to recover your funds after being scammed
  4. Report the incident to Action Fraud

It’s also important not to communicate any further with the scammers as this could put you at risk of further financial loss.

Scammers utilise multiple channels of communication in order to attempt to gain access to your personal or financial information. 

We’ve discussed that this method falls under APP scams and social engineering, however, this section provides some detail about the contact methods. 

How it works
  • Phishing: emails which contain malicious links or attachments that trick victims into downloading malicious malware. You should never open, download or click on any attachments or links that aren’t from a trusted source
  • Smishing (text): text/app messages that request information from the victim, contain malicious links or ask them to send money
  • Vishing (voice calls): a phone call, either automated or from a real person to obtain information or convince you to send money
  • Remote Access: Fraudsters will ask you to download a legitimate app to gain remote access to your computer or device. You should never allow remote access until you have verified the caller is genuine and trusted. Countingup will never request for you to do this
Look out for these common examples 
  • Emails, texts or phone calls purporting to be from a recognised institution (HMRC/NHS or other government organisations) 
  • Emails, texts or phone calls claiming you’ve won a prize or competition
  • Emails, texts or phone calls to download an app, particularly remote desktop apps
  • Messages on social media asking for payment details in order to receive goods or services
How to avoid falling victim to this type of scam
  • Be suspicious if you receive unsolicited emails, texts or messages containing links
  • Never click on any links within these unexpected messages and never provide any personal information unless you’re absolutely sure the request is genuine
  • If in doubt, contact the company directly using the contact details provided on their official website
  • You shouldn’t download an app if requested to do so by an unsolicited caller
What to do if you’re targeted

If you’re targeted by a scam by email, text or a phone call, it’s important not to panic and to take immediate action.

Some websites can record every keystroke you make (even if you don’t save/submit the form), so any data you added may be compromised and you should still take action. 

  1. Contact Countingup straight away if the company has stopped communication or blocked you on the platform that you were originally communicating on. If you sent funds from another account provider please contact them immediately
  2. Don’t send any further payments or engage with the third party any further
  3. Check to see if you have any unrecognised apps installed on your device and delete these
  4. Report the incident to Action Fraud
  5. Consider Protective Registration through CIFAS if your personal details were shared

Invoice redirection is a type of scam that targets businesses that pay and receive suppliers by direction of an invoice. 

How it works

It involves criminals sending emails or other communications to companies, pretending to be from their usual suppliers or vendors. 

The messages contain instructions on how to make payments via bank transfer and often include details of a recent change in their usual account information and/or payment references. 

In reality, the payments are directed into the criminal’s accounts instead of the legitimate supplier.

Look out for these common examples 
  • A known supplier contacting you from a different email address or mobile number
  • A supplier changing their account details 
  • An employee of your business contacting you to make a payment on their behalf
How to avoid falling victim to invoice fraud
  • Always check with a known contact. It’s most effective if you place a phone call to the supplier to verify the new communication/change in account details
  • Be cautious when authorising any changes which appear to be only related to payment amounts or frequency, but could also involve a change of account details
  • Keep your records up to date
  • Make sure your cybersecurity measures are strong, as this will make it harder for fraudsters to get through to you
  • If you have staff, particularly an accounts/finance team, train them on how to handle a suspicious invoice 
What to do if you’re targeted

If your business is targeted by invoice redirection fraud, it’s important to act quickly: 

  1. Contact Countingup straight away if the company has stopped communication or blocked you on the platform that you were originally communicating on
  2. If you sent funds from another account provider please contact them immediately
  3. Don’t send any further payments or engage with the third party any further
  4. Contact the impersonated party to let them know they may have been the victim of a data breach/hack 
  5. Ensure your cyber security is up-to-date and secure against future attacks
  6. Report the incident to Action Fraud
  7. Consider Protective Registration through CIFAS if your personal details were shared

Criminals establish emotional and sometimes romantic relationships with victims in order to defraud them.  

How it works

Criminals can set up fake profiles on dating websites to target victims and build a relationship with them, often posing as trusted people such as military personnel or professionals. 

However, they also target people who may not necessarily be looking for a romantic relationship, including joining forums, communities or even support groups. The building of these relationships can last several months and include regular contact with photos, emails, messages and phone or video calls.

Once they have gained the trust of their victim they’ll invent a reason to ask for financial help with the promise of paying you back and using the emotional attachment to lure you in.

Look out for these common examples
  • Requests to help travel costs, advising they are stuck abroad or would like to travel to meet you
  • An unexpected illness which becomes complex, with mounting medical bills before they can get treatment
  • Indications that their accounts or access to their funds are temporarily restricted
  • Requests for a loan or to transfer money on their behalf
  • Asking for access to your financial information and bank account
  • Copies of your identity documents
  • Receiving and sending parcels on their behalf
How to avoid falling victim to this scam
  • Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person
  • Consider whether you can afford to lose the money you are sending and do not put yourself in financial difficulty, or be pressured into securing a loan 
  • Never rely on promises that you will be repaid or any alleged proof that the third party is financially stable and able to repay you 
  • Be sceptical that an approach from a stranger online could be with the intent to commit the scam, especially if they want to discuss your finances and are offering to pay you back if you help them out
  • Be wary of requests for money. Never send money or give credit card details, online account details, or copies of important personal documents to anyone you have met online
  • Speak to family and friends for advice and experiences. Criminals often target people who may not want to share that they’re dating or considering a new relationship 
  • Profile pictures may not be genuine. Perform a reverse image search  to see if the image has been taken from another website such as a Facebook or Instagram account of a different person
  • If you’ve made a payment and you’re then asked to give some more, do not send any further funds  
What to do if you’re targeted

If you’ve been targeted by someone you’re in, or thought you were in, a relationship with, it’s important to understand that the scammer hopes you’ll keep it to yourself out of worry, shame or embarrassment. But you’re not alone, these scammers are skilful and calculated. If you’ve sent any funds or are considering making a payment to someone:

  1. Contact Countingup right away. If you sent funds from another account provider please contact them immediately  
  2. Don’t send any further payments or engage with the third party any further
  3. Report the incident to Action Fraud
  4. Consider Protective Registration through CIFAS if you shared your personal of financial details
  5. Change passwords if you revealed any, or if they might be guessed based on information you shared
  6. See Take Five’s advice: https://www.takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/news/take-five-warns-people-to-beware-as-criminals-continue-to-target-those-looking-for-love-online/ 

Trading in foreign exchange involves the promise of return on your initial investments. 

How it works

Either through offering to coach or acting as a broker, the criminal will promise a return on investments made. Often individuals are encouraged to continue to invest funds. The returns, which may have initially been provided, suddenly stop, the account is suspended and there’s no further contact with the firm. Many claim to be authorised by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) and give registration details of another company typically similar in name. Some scammers sell details to other criminals who then offer to get your money back or buy back the investment after you pay a fee.

Look out for these common examples

Almost all companies and individuals that offer, promote or sell financial services or products in the UK have to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

Investing in an FCA authorised firm means that your money should be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The FSCS protects investments of up to £85,000 if a firm goes bust or you received poor advice that caused you to lose money. 

Unauthorised firms aren’t protected by the FSCS so it’s more difficult to recover your money if anything goes wrong with the firm.

How to avoid falling victim to trading scams
  • Ensure the firm is regulated by the FCA. (Ask the company for the firm’s reference number. This can be used to search the FCA’s register)
  •  If they’re not registered, check the FCA’s warning list of firms to avoid
  • Don’t be pressured to invest quickly
  • Be wary of promised returns that sound too good to be true
  • Seek independent financial advice or guidance before investing
What to do if you’re targeted

If you have fallen victim to a forex trading scam, it’s important to act quickly as, similarly to investment scams, fraudsters rely on the fact that it could take you a long time to realise you have been a victim because you don’t expect a return immediately. If you’ve sent funds: 

  1. Contact Countingup right away. If you sent funds from another account provider please contact them immediately
  2. Don’t send any further payments or engage with the third party any further
  3. Report the incident to Action Fraud
  4. Consider Protective Registration through CIFAS if you shared your personal of financial details

Criminals pretend to sell items via usual online retail platforms, including social media marketplaces, with no intention of sending the goods after payment has been made.

How they work

The goods are advertised as usual, the criminal accepts payment and thereafter, they’ll either reschedule or provide excuses as to the lack of delivery in order to stall and delay you from realising you’ve been defrauded. 

Sometimes, they’ll even claim that the payment was not successful and request you send the payment multiple times. 

Look out for these common examples
  • Sellers with low numbers of reviews or only positive feedback 
  • Requests to move communications outside of the platform or website you’re using, if not necessary, to discuss the order/delivery   
  • Stalling tactics or being unable to provide evidence of delivery
How to avoid falling victim to a purchase scam
  • Use secure websites. Look for a padlock icon in your browser’s address bar. The padlock symbol and the URL containing “https” means that the connection between your web browser and the website server is encrypted
  • Faster Payments are the least secure method of payment as it’s unlikely you’ll recover the funds. Services such as PayPal, credit cards or debit card payments offer some protection 
  • Don’t click any unsolicited links sent from a third party or fill out unnecessary information
  • Be cautious of unusual emails from the platform you’re using 
  • If the funds are returned to you and the seller requests you resend the payment to different account details, this could be a sign of a scam
  • Beware of any claims that the payment has not been received, but the funds have not been returned to your account 
  • There may be claims that you’ve underpaid and requests for additional payment 
What to do if you’re targeted

If you are ever targeted there are several steps you should take:

  1. Contact Countingup straight away if the company has stopped communication or blocked you on the platform that you were originally communicating on. If you sent funds from another account provider please contact them immediately. You may need to provide details of what you were attempting to purchase, and evidence of correspondence, in order to allow us to claim the funds from the recipient bank
  2. Report the incident to Action Fraud

When your online or mobile account services are compromised and a third party gains control of your financial accounts and is able to make transfers without your consent or knowledge, this is an account takeover.

How they work

Criminals will usually require you to provide security information in order to access your account. They’ll then quickly move your funds to another account. 

Look out for these common examples 
  • Phone calls, emails, instant messages or text messages indicating that your account is already compromised 
  • Communications from someone claiming to be from Countingup or any of your account providers, where they need your security information (card details, passcodes or passwords) 
  • Requests that you provide passwords, passcodes or emails that you’ve received from Countingup, usually those containing security details 
  • Emails you weren’t expecting to receive, including registering a new device
How to avoid falling victim to an account takeover
  • Use strong passwords and make sure your email address and financial accounts have different passwords 
  • Don’t share details with anyone
  • Verify any unusual contact you receive directly with your account provider before you share any sensitive information 
  • Your account provider will never ask you for information that could compromise your account. Always be wary about the details you’re being asked to provide 
  • Don’t click on links from unusual messages that you didn’t expect to receive 
  • If you click on a link and start filling out information, consider whether that information is actually required for the purpose you’ve been asked to do so 
  • Don’t download any apps if directed by an unsolicited caller to do so. This may allow remote access to your device 
  • Switch on 2-factor authentication on apps, websites and devices you use 
  • Use anti-virus software on your devices 
  • Look out for data breach announcements from providers that you use and change passwords if you are notified 
What to do if you’re targeted

If you are ever targeted by an account takeover there are several steps you should take:

  1. Contact Countingup straight away. We’ll need to suspend the account and likely go through the security process to secure your account. If funds were sent from another account provider please contact them immediately
  2. Report the incident to Action Fraud

A money mule is an individual who has been targeted by someone who has offered them money for:

  • Simply transferring funds through their account, or
  • Opening a new account, which the criminal will then either gain control of or ask the mule to transfer funds from A to B

This allows them to launder illegally acquired money, derived from potentially more serious crimes.

How they work

Criminals looking for money mules will use any form of social media to advertise ‘quick and easy cash’. Typically, money mules are 18-30 years old, often students who may be in need of what appears to be a simple way of making money. Criminals will describe the activities as an easy way to make some cash just by opening an account on their behalf or transferring money through their personal accounts. The criminals will not identify the source of the funds and will assure the mules that everything is legal, however, you should note it is a criminal offence to launder money or create an account for the sole purpose of moving others’ illegally acquired money.

Look out for these common examples 
  • Offers online of quick easy money 
  • Job advertisements where you are asked to provide lots of your personal data upfront 
  • Offers to provide you a fee for the use of your account to receive funds 
  • Requests to make payments to an unknown third party on someone’s behalf
  • Social media adverts with pictures of large amounts of cash 
  • Someone asking to open an account in your name for their use
  • Requests for selfies, photos or videos on another person’s device
  • An individual wishing to use your address to receive their post
  • Taking credit out in your name for someone else’s benefit 
How to avoid becoming a money mule 
  • Be wary of advertisements on social media that are too good to be true and offer disproportionate amounts of money for the amount of work 
  • Don’t accept random communication on social media offering easy money
  • Be careful when befriending someone new on social media if they make an offer of making some quick cash
  • Don’t provide anyone you don’t know with your personal/account details
  • There should be no reason an individual needs someone else’s account to transfer money
What to do if you’re targeted

If you’re ever targeted, there are several steps you should take:

  1. Contact Countingup. If you sent funds from another account provider please contact them immediately
  2. Report the incident to Action Fraud
  3. Stop any transfers immediately
  4. Stop contact with the individual straight away

Further information can be found online, https://www.moneymules.co.uk/. Do not be afraid to step forward and report money mule recruiters.

Debit and credit card fraud is a type of financial crime that involves using stolen or counterfeit cards to make unauthorised purchases, withdraw cash from ATMs, or transfer funds from one account to another.

How it works

Outside of stealing your card directly, a common approach to stealing your money is card skimming (where criminals use special devices to copy data from the magnetic strip on cards). This can be done through an ATM machine or simply walking past a criminal using the device. 

Look out for these common examples 
  • Shoulder Surfing – people looking at you entering your PIN number
  • If your card appears to have been swallowed, don’t immediately leave the cash point. If a device has been laid over the top of the machine the criminals will need to remove it to take your card 
  • Devices attached to card machines
How to avoid falling victim
  • At ATM machines, pull at the ‘insert card’ area before you put your card in and look for anything out of the ordinary. Card skimming machines can be put on top of an ATM, as can cameras, to try and get your card details and PIN
  • Regularly check your statements for any unfamiliar transactions
  • Never give away your PIN number and always keep it covered
  • If you are in a crowded or public place, keep an eye on your belongings and periodically check your wallet/purse are still in your possession 
  • Beware of pickpockets, including people bumping into you or any unusual incidents which may be an attempt to distract you 
  • Keep an eye on your card when making a payment in a shop or restaurant, don’t let someone walk away with it unaccompanied 
  • Avoid standalone ATMs and swiping your card at pay at pump petrol stations 
  • Pick well-lit ATMs on a busier road to reduce the likelihood of shoulder surfing card theft
What to do if you’re targeted

If you’ve been targeted by debit and credit card fraudsters, it’s important to act quickly. 

  1. Freeze or block your card immediately
  2. Contact Countingup straight away to report any suspicious activity or if your card has been stolen. If you notice suspicious activity with another account provider please contact them immediately
  3. If you pull at an ATM after using it, or if your card is swallowed, and it comes apart, contact the police immediately
  4. Change any passwords or PINs which may have been compromised
  5. Monitor all of your accounts closely
  6. Report the incident to Action Fraud or the police if your card was stolen
  7. If your phone was also stolen, get in touch with your account providers immediately and ask that your cards and accounts are secured (subject to internal procedures it is likely they will be suspended until you can pass security checks)

Such scams usually involve receiving a letter or email congratulating you on winning a prize or lottery jackpot – even though you didn’t enter it. 

How it works 

You’re asked for your bank account details or copies of personal documents, such as your passport, so they can send you the money. Occasionally they’ll ask for an advance fee before they can release the money – they’ll claim this is for taxes, legal or banking fees, or processing or handling fees. Once you send your bank details, your bank account is emptied by the scammers.

Look out for common examples
  • If you haven’t bought a ticket, you can’t possibly have won
  • You’re told to keep your win a secret and to reply quickly or risk losing your winnings
  • You have to pay costs such as taxes, legal and banking fees to release your winnings
How to avoid falling victim
  • Never reveal your account or card security details 
  • Do not pay any fees to claim your prize
  • Do not respond to competitions you haven’t entered
  • Never click on links or supply personal data in order to claim your winnings
  • Keep an eye on your account statement for unusual transactions and small payments
What to do if you’re targeted
  1. Contact Countingup straight away to report any suspicious activity. If you notice suspicious activity with another account provider please contact them immediately
  2. Report the incident to Action Fraud
  3. Spread the word to your friends and family to protect them

Such scams usually involve promoting goods and/or services that are either never delivered to you or are of a very poor standard/quality. Scammers are often known to bill you for work that you didn’t agree to or were unaware of. There are specific laws (https://www.gov.uk/doorstep-selling-regulations) about door-to-door sales. Many are required to give you a ‘cooling-off’ period (where you can change your mind or request your money back). Bogus tradesmen will offer none of these, and even if they do, you can be sure their ‘guarantee’ will not be honoured.

How it works 

Door-to-door frauds can take many forms, including:

  • Pressure selling
  • Unfair contracts
  • Overpriced or substandard home maintenance or improvements
  • Phoney consumer surveys
  • Bogus charity collections
Look out for common examples
  • Salespeople providing false identity or contact information, making it impossible for you to identify or contact them
  • Terms and Conditions which seem unfair or are not presented before a payment is made 
  • Pressure to make a quick decision or payment
  • Handing over money before you’ve inspected the goods 
  • No opportunity or mention of a cooling off period or refund policy 
How to avoid falling victim
  • Check receipts and documents before you sign anything 
  • Review the Terms and Conditions and refund policy before making a payment 
  • Make an excuse to avoid committing to a payment you are not comfortable with 
  • Step away and call a family member or friend for advice 
  • Do not invite people into your home, ask them to speak at the door
  • Ask for a website which you can look into at your own pace and research the company first
What to do if you’re targeted
  1. Contact Countingup straight away if you’ve paid for goods you did not receive and have been blocked. If you sent funds from another account provider please contact them immediately
  2. Report the incident to Action Fraud
  3. You can report the salesperson to the Citizens Advice or to the National Trading Standards if you believe they have sold you faulty, inferior or overpriced products or services.
  4. You can seek advice from Citizens Advice about the terms and conditions of any agreement or contract you may have signed