Top tips to avoid getting scammed

No one is immune from scam artists. They are ruthless and they are cunning – even pretending to be the very people you turn to in a time of crisis.

After running a successful scam awareness campaign in May to warn the public about the ploys of con artists, Citizens Advice has discovered that imposters are cold calling people pretending to be from CAB and offering help with accident claims. We want to stress that no CAB adviser, or anyone connected with the bureau, would call or text someone out of the blue.

Similarly, the police have warned that con artists pretending to be representatives of Action Fraud (the UK’s national fraud and financially motivated internet crime reporting centre) have been calling people to ask if they have been victims of a scam and to offer their services to recover what the victims have lost — at a price. Again no one from Action Fraud would ever do this and anyone falling for the ploy would soon discover they are even further out of pocket.

The guile and gall of these criminals is incredible, which is why they are so dangerous and, sadly, so effective costing the British public £3.5 billion a year.

A scam is any scheme designed to con you out of your money or goods. They come in many forms, from letters claiming you have won a prize to rogue workmen offering to carry out repairs for money up front. Many are specifically aimed at people who have the most to lose, such as the unemployed who are offered jobs that simply do not exist.

Some of these are simple ploys – victims respond to job advertisements and told they have to pay a recruitment fee to start work, but never hear from the so-called employment agency again.

Others are more intricate and as a result more devastating as the recruitment agency may conduct interviews over the phone and refer applicants to a genuine employer’s website. A series of fees is demanded for administration or — if the job is abroad — an accommodation deposit. They will also ask for bank account details for salary payments but in reality these will be used to steal money from your account.

Prevention is the most effective way of dealing with fraud, as many scams are operated from abroad with the main tips to remember being:

  • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Do not give out any personal information without checking the recipient’s credentials
  • Resist the pressure to act immediately – give yourself time to assess if something is genuine
  • Be wary of any unsolicited communication

There is a wealth of information on different types of scams, and how to avoid falling prey to fraudsters, at CAB’s or