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Let's talk financial harm

We all think we’re savvy at spotting scams, but criminals are always finding new ways to con us.

There’s no such thing as a typical target, we can all be caught out by the right scam at the right time. Once someone is the victim of a scam once, their details will often go onto the criminals’ ‘victims list’ and the scams keep coming. Prevention is better than cure, so use the information below to talk about scams with your family, friends or service-users. It only takes ten minutes, and could prevent someone you know falling victim to financial harm.

Common scams

New scams are always appearing, but here’s some common ones to look out for:

Doorstep Callers

Doorstep callers may try to sell you products, or tell you that urgent work is required on your property. Any work will probably be overpriced, poor quality, or maybe not even needed.

Impersonation Scams

You get a phone call or email from someone saying they are your bank, HMRC or Amazon, asking you to make a payment or give them your personal or bank details.

Investment Scams

You see a flashy advert online or receive a call or letter offering a good deal to invest in luxury goods or cryptocurrency. In reality, this is all fake and the goods don’t exist.

Pension Fraud

Someone contacts you out-of-the-blue with an attractive offer to transfer your pension savings. Your money is then stolen, or transferred to non-existent or high-risk schemes.

Romance/Friendship Scams

You meet someone online and they quickly declare strong feelings for you. Criminals use fake identities to do this and will then ask for money, often saying this is to come and see you, or for a family emergency.

Catalogue Scams

You receive a catalogue in the post which sells health and beauty pills, home and garden items or clothes. You place an order and end up in a subscription trap, paying up to hundreds of pounds a month.

Fake Lotteries and Prize Draws

You receive a letter or e-mail telling you you’ve won a prize draw or foreign lottery which you don’t remember entering. They ask for a fee to claim your winnings, which never arrive.

Purchase Fraud & Counterfeits

You see products advertised on websites or social media that seem like a good buy, often for designer goods. You pay, but they either do not turn up, or are counterfeit and possibly dangerous.

Protect Yourself.

  • Don’t buy goods or services from a trader on your doorstep - remember you decide if you need work done to your property, not a stranger at the door. Ask friends and family for recommendations, shop around for three quotes and consider a Council Trusted Trader.
  • Banks or government bodies will never contact you and ask for personal or account details. If in doubt, hang up and call your bank on a number you trust. Never phone a number the caller gives you.
  • Don’t feel pressurised or rushed into making a decision about financial investments or pension transfer. Always seek advice from an Independent Financial Adviser who is authorised by the FCA. Check any offers at:
  • Don’t ever send money to someone who you haven't met in person. Speak to trusted family and friends about your new friend or love interest, and listen to them if they seem concerned.
  • Be wary of leaflets and catalogues offering magic cures or miracle products. Always read the small print and make sure you’re not being tricked into a subscription.
  • Don’t reply to any letters or e-mails saying you've won a prize if you haven't entered the competition. No real lotteries will ask for a fee to claim a prize. Genuine lotteries rely on publicity - if they ask you to keep your win a secret, then it’s probably a scam.
  • Only buy products from reputable retailers and well known shops. Don’t be tempted by designer goods that are much cheaper than everywhere else. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

I think I've been scammed

Contact your bank quickly – they may be able to stop cheques or transfers.

Contact Police on 101 or report to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000

Forward Scam e-mails to

Forward scam text messages to 7726 (it’s free to do this)

What next?

If you want to learn more, become a Friend Against Scams. This 20 minute online course tells you all you need to know to protect your-self and raise awareness in your community.