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How to protect yourself, and people you know, from scams

Each year, millions of people in the UK fall victim to scamming, amongst them are vulnerable and older members of society. Scams are increasingly common and with technology developing at an alarming rate, fraudsters are getting more sophisticated.

According to Age UK, the most common types of scams are, doorstep, mail, phone, email and online, relationship scams, identify theft and investment and pension scams.

Protecting yourself

Here are a few top tips to help you stay vigilant to scammers:

  • Don’t be embarrassed to hang up, say no or ask someone to leave.
  • Your bank will never call and ask for your pin number or for you to give your card to a courier. Never give out your bank account or credit card details unless you are certain who you are dealing with.
  • Treat all unexpected calls, emails and text messages with caution. Don’t open emails, links or attachments from someone you don’t know.
  • If you receive a phone call claiming to be from the bank they may ask you to phone the number on the back of your card to ensure the call is genuine. Instead, you should call someone else first (eg a friend or family member) before calling the bank so that you know the person who called you is not still on the line and the call has definitely ended. Scammers will frequently stay on the phone as you dial the bank’s number and they will then pretend to be a new person from the bank answering the phone and will continue with the scam.
  • Don’t believe letters or emails claiming you have won a cash prize. If you haven’t entered a lottery or prize draw, you can’t have won it.
  • Avoid financial scams by getting independent professional advice before making decisions on pensions or investments.
  • Check your bank account and credit card statements regularly.
    Have strong passwords and change them periodically.

What if someone you know is being scammed?

If you have concerns that someone you know is being scammed, you should:

  • Look out for warning signs. Is the person receiving unusually large volumes of mail? Are they spending large sums of money? Give them relevant advice from the Age UK guide below, and help them report the scam.
  • Find support. The charity ‘Think Jessica’ can help you support someone who does not believe that they are being scammed. Check out some of the other useful organisations listed at the back of the Age UK guide below.

Reporting a scam

  • Report the scam to Police Scotland by calling 101.
  • If you have given out any of your personal information, or have already made a payment, contact your bank immediately using the contact details on their website or the Financial Services Register. Home (fca.org.uk)
  • Report scam emails to the National Cyber Security Centre by forwarding it to report@phishing.gov.uk. As of June 2022 the NCSC has received over 12m reported scams.

For further information, please see this helpful guide from Age UK.