The ten most common types of scam revealed and how to make sure you don't get caught out

FRAUDSTERS in the UK stole a whopping £753.9million in the first half of 2021 alone.

That means criminals walked away with over four million quid in stolen money every single day.

This represents a 30% increase in the number of fraud cases since last year, according to UK Finance who collect the data.

Scammers are getting even more sophisticated meaning more people are losing money than ever before.

Criminals rely on people thinking "it won't happen to me" and not knowing about the new methods they have to con people.

The most common kind of fraud was authorised push payment fraud (APP) which is when scammers tricking you into transferring money across.

There was 71% increase in APP fraud during the first half of 2021 and, for the first time, the amount of money stolen through APP fraud overtook card fraud losses.

Scammers have been targeting people as young as 14 via social media platforms to become money mules, where their bank account is used to launder stolen money.

There has also been a big increase in the use of cryptocurrency wallets, which are used to take stolen money outside of the banking system quickly.

UK Finance says that there is now so much fraud that it poses a national security threat.

Here's the ten most common types of scam – how they work and how to stay safe.

Unauthorised payment card fraud

This is the most common kind of scam, with over 1.4million cases reported in the first half of 2021.

One common example of this is when lost or stolen cards are used to spend money. Sometimes criminals will clone a card, often by tampering with a cash machine.

Scammers may also sell details of your card number, card holder name, date of birth and address. This is also known as ‘card-not-present’ fraud.

Some scammers even apply for credit cards in another person's name so they can rack up bills.

The good news is, if you're a victim of this kind of unauthorised fraud, you should get your money back, thanks to the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

You need to report the fraud as soon as possible.

How to stay safe

  • Check your bank accounts regularly so you can spot any unusual activity
  • Check your credit report monthly to make sure no one has taken out products in your name
  • Set up phone alerts from your bank that tell you when money is spent
  • If your card is declined, phone up the bank to find out why
  • Make sure you don't use your banking password or pin for anything else
  • Avoid cash machines that look like they've been tampered with
  • Don't let your card out of your sight including in restaurants and bars
  • Chop up any old cards
  • Don't use public Wi-Fi for transactions
  • Always log out of your bank account
  • Invest in a shredder to get rid of post and old bank statements
  • If you lose your card, cancel it immediately. Don't wait to see if it turns up.

Remote banking fraud

Online banking fraud is when criminals access your money digitally by getting hold of your personal information.

Sometimes, fraudster will use malware to hack your computer and get hold of your financial details.

In the first half of this year UK Finance reported 50,537 cases of remote banking fraud, costing victims £2,639.65 each on average.

How to stay safe

  • Make sure you don't use your banking password or pin for anything else
  • Don't use public Wi-Fi for transactions
  • Always log out of your bank account
  • Protect your computer with a firewall and up-to-date antivirus software
  • Let your phone provider know as soon as possible if you lose your phone
  • Return your phone to factor settings before selling it or giving it away
  • Don't install apps from unknown sources
  • Never respond to texts about transactions. If you think a text might be legitimate, find the number of your bank (either on your card or on their website) and ring up and check
  • Never give out banking details over the phone.
  • Be wary of what you post on social media, sometimes scammers call trawl your profile for information.

Investment scam

Investment and pension scams are some of the hardest to spot and the most lucrative for criminals.

In the first half of 2021, UK Finance reported that there were 6,864 incidences of this kind of fraud and that victim lost over £15,000 on average.

Typically, investment scammers offer schemes that promise good returns and that need to be acted on quickly.

Often the fraudsters have fancy brochures and legitimate looking websites, so it's easy to get taken in.

Pensions scams are also rife, where criminals offer free pension reviews, early access to cash or promises of better returns.

Sometimes the investments will be unusual and there is a promise of an asset that you will own (like a parking space).

How to stay safe

  • If a company is pressuring you to make an investment or saying that an opportunity is time limited, it's usually a scam. Legitimate companies will never pressure you to make a decision.
  • Before making any financial decision speak to your friends and family. Consider speaking to an independent financial adviser as well.
  • Check the FCA register to make sure that a company is regulated.
  • Firms that offer guaranteed returns or early access to pensions are probably scams.
  • If you get unsolicited advice or phone calls about investment opportunities, hang up the phone. Pensions cold calling is illegal.
  • Report pension cold calls to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  • Check the FCA Warning List to evaluate the risks of any potential pension or investment opportunity.

Impersonation: Police/bank staff

This is when fraudsters pretend to be police or to work at your bank to convince you to part with your cash.

Often, these scams start with a text or phone call, and the fraudsters sometimes spoof the number so it looks like they are calling from a legitimate source.

Sometimes the scammers will even pretend to be from your bank's fraud team and tell you that you need to move the money to keep it safe.

Other people have been scammed in person by fraudsters claiming to be the police. Often these criminals pretend that they are investigating fraud to explain why are talking to you.

In total, £84.7million was lost to scammers posing as financial institutions or the police. On average, each victim lost more than £4,500.

There are other people that fraudsters commonly pose as…

Impersonation: Other

Scammers sometimes pretend to be from other trusted organisations including HMRC, delivery companies, broadband providers and even mobile networks.

They might claim you have an urgent unpaid tax bill, or even say they're giving you some money back off your phone bill.

How to stay safe from impersonation scams

  • Ignore any texts or calls that say you urgently need to hand over personal information or move money
  • Using a separate phone, or ten minutes after a call has disconnected – ring up the organisation in question, making sure you get the number from a trusted source – you can double check if a request is legitimate.
  • Never give financial details over the phone.
  • Check email address and websites carefully.
  • Be wary of any texts, calls or emails that claim your money is at risk or that there has already been fraudulent activity.

Invoice and mandate scams

This is when criminals pose as a supplier and convince you to change the bank details that you normally pay to.

It's one of the most sophisticated types of scam, and the fraudsters do loads of research to see who your supplier is and when you usually pay.

Typically, the scammers will spoof a legitimate email address, so it looks like the person you normally deal with.

Often, you won't discover the fraud until your supplier gets in touch asking why you haven't paid your bills.

There were 2,166 cases in the first half of this year, and people lost over £19,000 on average.

How to stay safe:

  • If you get a request to change payment details – look up the company contact details on their official website and ring up. The accounts department will be able to tell you if a request is legitimate.
  • Be wary if you are getting more invoices than normal or if you're being sent duplicates.
  • If you think you've been a victim of this kind of fraud, call your bank immediately, as you may be able to stop the payment.

Purchase scam

Purchasing scams have become increasingly common with the rise of online shopping.

This type of fraud involves tricking people into paying for products and services that typically don't exist.

Usually the photos are stolen from legitimate sellers to help convince you that a seller is legitimate.

Take Five to Spot Fraud says that common examples include: buyers paying deposits for pets that don’t exist, DIY purchases and electronic devices such as games consoles.

  • If a discount looks to good to be true – it probably is.
  • Buy from legitimate companies you know to exist
  • Check reviews on sellers and websites. Google them to see what other people have said.
  • Check when the website was launched, if it's very new it might be suspect.
  • If you're asked to pay by bank transfer instead of using secure payments be vary wary.
  • Remember that entire websites can be fraudulent, it's not just ads on social media that are risky.

Advance fee fraud

This is when scammers ask you to pay an upfront fee for goods or services that never materialise. For instance, being asked to pay an admin fee to access job opportunities, training or join a modelling agency.

Another example is when a scammer posing as a lawyer contacts you about an inheritance from a long-lost relative and asks for various taxes and fees to release the money

There's also loan advance fee scams, fraud recovery scams, rental fraud, lottery or prize scams, and even work from home scams.

How to stay safe

  • If you're asked for an upfront fee it may well be a scam. Check whether the service in question usually asks for money upfront.
  • Keep an eye out for spelling mistakes or poor grammar in documents and on websites.
  • Beware email address with Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail – most legitimate companies do not use these.
  • Make sure the email address matches the domain of the supposed organisation e.g. or
  • Ignore texts or emails saying you need to pay a fee to get deliveries.
  • Confirm organisations you’re being contacted by are registered on Companies House 
  • If you’re concerned about a job scam you can report it to SAFERjobs using their online reporting tool

Romance scam

This kind of fraud is when criminals pose online on dating websites.

Once they've gained someone's trust – and often after several months of "dating" – they ask for money for a variety of reasons.

Usually these are emotive, for instance emergency medical treatment or transport costs to meet in person.

You may have spent significant amounts of time speaking to them online, on the phone, or even on video chat.

  • Don't give money to someone you met online but have never met in person
  • Speak to family and friends to get advice
  • Remember that profile pictures may be stolen, and if you haven't seen someone they might be catfishing you.
  • Do a reverse image search to see if photos are stolen from elsewhere
  • Don't give people access to your bank account or any of your personal financial details
  • Don't take out loans or transfer money on someone else's behalf

Anyone who has been a victim of any kind of fraud should let their bank know immediately and also report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via

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