Scams banner

How to
spot a scam

Anyone can fall for a scam. But you are less likely to
become a victim if you know what to look out for.

What is a scam

What is a scam? 

There are many different scams, but they all share the same goal of getting hold of your money.

Most scams do this by obtaining your details, stealing your information, or tricking you into handing over your cash.

Some scams are complex, and perpetrators can be very convincing. So, it is vital you can spot the signs to protect yourself.


How can a scammer contact me?

How can a scammer contact me?

Nowadays, it is easier than ever for scammers to approach people, but some of the most common ways are: 

  • In person
  • By email or on social media
  • By post
  • By phone or text.

Often, scammers will find information about you before they make contact and use manipulative techniques to draw you in. Scammers often target people who:

  • Live alone and may feel lonely.
  • Are at home during the day.
  • Have money or valuables.

How do I spot a scam?

Scams can be very clever and hard to spot, but there are some key things to be aware of:

  • An unexpected offer that comes out of the blue 
  • A request for your bank account details, or to verify your password or PIN
  • A time-limited offer that puts pressure on you to act quickly
  • A confidential offer that specifically tells you not to mention to family and friends
  • A prize where you need to send money upfront to claim your winnings
  • Contact from a company that has vague, or incorrect contact details
  • Persistent and repeated contact that ask you to stay on the phone for a long time
  • A text or call from a number you don’t recognise.

Generally, if something sounds too good to be true or doesn’t quite make sense, then you should be cautious.

How can I protect myself?

In person

  • If someone comes to your door claiming to be from an organisation, make sure you check their ID. Remember, you never have to let anyone in if you do not want to.
  • Never agree to buy anything expensive on the door. Take your time and check their credentials. There is no need for you to spend money then and there, no matter what they say.
  • If they are offering a service such as trimming your hedges, ask for a written quote. This will enable you to compare with other businesses and check the going rates.



  • Install anti-virus and firewall software.
  • Never click on a link or an attachment in an unsolicited, or suspicious email, even to unsubscribe.
  • Never reply to a scam email, even if you are saying no. A reply lets the scammer know the account is active.
  • Never use public Wi-Fi to make any financial transactions, including online shopping and banking.


On social media

  • Check your privacy settings to make sure they offer the most protection.
  • If you receive a message from someone you know not using their usual account, double-check with that person by calling them.
  • Don't share personal information that could help a criminal. This includes things like your date of birth, your pet’s names and when you are on holiday.
  • If you are unsure whether an account for someone you know is genuine, contact that person through a different route to check.


On the phone

  • Hang up on cold callers and ignore cold texts every time.
  • You can opt-out of marketing calls if you register with the free Telephone Preference Service . This means that if a cold caller contacts you and asks you to pay for anything, it is a scam.
  • Ask for the name of the person who is calling you and the company or organisation they represent. This means you can check the information by calling the company’s head office. You should wait 20 minutes before you do this or use a different phone line in case the caller has kept the line open.



  • Shred or burn all receipts and post with your credit card or personal details on.
  • Put up a ‘no junk mail’ sign or something similar on your front door.
  • Like on the phone, you can register with the Mailing Preference Service  to stop direct marketing mail addressed to you.

Remember, this list is not exhaustive, and scammers are always finding new ways to con potential victims. The most important tip of all is to stay vigilant and remember that if something is too good to be true, then it is.

How to get help

If you’re a victim of a scam, don’t be afraid to speak up and get help. Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. You can report to them if you have been scammed, defrauded, or experienced cybercrime.

If you’re concerned about someone who may be vulnerable, contact your local council’s adult social care service or safeguarding team and let them know. 

Find your local council on

Contact our rent team

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Contact our rent team