How to recognise a scam

There are many types of scam, but all are intended to obtain your money. Fraudsters approach potential victims by phone, online, by email and text message.

Some signs of a scam are:

  • It seems too good to be true, such as a product or service which is too cheap
  • Someone you don’t know has contacted you unexpectedly
  • You have been asked for personal information, like a PIN or password
  • You have been asked to pay for something in an unusual way, such as with a gift card or money wire transfer
  • You’ve been asked to transfer money quickly
  • You receive a phone call which claims to be from a bank, internet provider or a well-known company

If you are ever unsure if a call is really coming from your bank or a company you deal with you can hang up and call back on a number which you know is genuine. For example, go directly to the company website or call the phone number on your bank card.

Tips on recognising a scam

“If it seems too good to be true, it possibly is,” says Stuart Dexter, Chief Executive at Citizens Advice County Durham.

“If you’re buying online you can check things, like if they have a postal address as well as a website address. Think about how you’re being asked to pay for things. If you’re using one of the recognised things like PayPal there’s certain checks and balances there.

Reporting a scam

If you’re in immediate danger or feel threatened report this to the police immediately.

If you have realised later that you have been scammed there are a number of avenues to report this.

“You can report it to your bank, so your bank do have an obligation to deal with certain scams and certain losses,” says Stuart Dexter.

“There are some hotlines you can call as well. There’s Scams Action, which is a national line, which is available on 0300 330 3003.”

Citizens Advice also has a consumer service. If you have purchased something and it’s not what you were expecting or doesn’t work you can call the service on 03454 04 05 06.

Reporting a scam

Fraud and cyber crime can be reported to Action Fraud online, or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Advice from Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice County Durham offer advice by phone and in person.

Advice is impartial and free to anyone who needs it. The offices around the county offer drop-in sessions and appointments are also available.

Information about branches in County Durham can be found on their website.

More information and useful links

Citzens Advice County Durham:

Citizens Advice: Check if something might be a scam