10 Scams that Everyone Should be Aware Of

by , Last Updated: 12 January 2015

Keep your wits about you because, whilst a recession is bad news for most of us, it is all just more ammunition for the ID fraudsters and money scammers.

Pickpocketing from girls bag

This week alone I must have received at least ten emails from Nationwide and Abbey National urging me to 'renew my security certificate' or some other nonsense. I know it's nonsense because I don't bank with either of them. Doubtless if I had visited the website these emails asked me to visit, I would have been asked to input all manner of personal details, including my internet banking username and password.

Obviously it's a scam, someone, somewhere wants to siphon money out of my bank account. Now there's nothing new about this kind of crime - conmen have been around since the year dot - but the sheer quantity of fake emails hitting my junk folder got me thinking...

You'd think that hard economic times would be bad news for scammers as people keep their money close and treat every request for cash with suspicion - plus you'd think there would be less money to steal. Well, maybe not. It is equally possible that a recession actually presents an opportunity for scammers - if we are all worried about money, some might be more likely to be taken in by fake emails. It's easy to see why people might be taken in by an email telling them 'your money might not be safe, visit our website to make sure it is'. Even fake money making schemes might have a few extra takers. Let's face it your average scammer doesn't care how much 'disposable income' you have - as long as there is money in your account they'll be all too happy to help themselves.

The fact is that these schemes cost the UK a total of 1.3 billion every year (and rising), and the average victim loses a staggering 31,000. That's more than enough, I'm sure anyone would agree. So maybe it's time to remind ourselves of the most common scams and remember to avoid them like the plague:

1. The fake bank email: If you receive an email from your bank asking you to visit a website, no matter how official it sounds, don't do it. If you are worried that it might be genuine and ignoring it could be costly, telephone your bank to check.

2. The Nigerian money scam: A reworking of the age old 'Spanish Prisoner' scam, these emails asking for a small amount of money in return for a small fortune may seem laughably amateurish, but people are taken in and the fraudsters do make money - otherwise they simply wouldn't keep doing it. Ignore it and don't be tempted to reply - even to give the sender a cyber dressing down

3. Facebook ID fraud: This is a new one. Essentially, someone hacks a Facebook account and then sends messages to all associated 'friends' asking for money to help in a dire emergency. Ask yourself if one of your real friends would ask you for money via a social networking site, or if they would give you a call. Don't take this kind of message at face value - check it out before you part with your cash.

4. The 'real world hack': Proof, if proof were needed that hackers are getting ever more cunning. In a recent case in the US, people were conned into downloading malicious software from a website address printed on fake parking tickets. The lesson is, if it is website you don't already know, download nothing before you check it out properly.

5. Premium phone line scams:Not all money scams exist in cyberspace, as the telephone scam proves. OK, this one really is for the gullible, but it does pay to know how they work. In essence, you get an answer phone message or letter telling you that a fortune in lottery money (or some other such enticement) awaits if you will only call the following number. When you call, you get to listen to a loooong message and come away none the wiser. The scammer on the other hand is directing your call through a premium rate phone line and making a small fortune in the process - you won't know you've been ripped off until the phone bill arrives.

6. Disaster relief scams:Given the horrible events unfolding in Australia, I'd expect a series of fake charity appeal emails to start doing to rounds quite quickly. Just remember that charities rarely ask for money by email, so if you want to give, ignore any emails you might receive and go direct to the charity of your choice. At least that way you know your money will end up going where you intended.

7. The petrol scam:  Another golden oldie, the petrol scam is a face to face job. Essentially, the scammer approaches you saying that they have run out of petrol. They ask to borrow anything from 5 to 25 for petrol, leaving their car keys with you as security. In most cases it turns out that there is no car, rendering those keys worthless and you're out of pocket to the tune of up to 25.

8. The advance fee scam: It could be that you've won an obscure overseas lottery that you didn't even enter, or that you've won a cruise, or someone offering you a 'too good to be true' credit card - but in every case, they will want a 'processing fee' up front before you get whatever it is you've won. Basically, if it seems too good to be true, it is.

9. Dust bin miningIdentity theft is so profitable that scammers are more than prepared to sift through rubbish looking for anything with useful personal details on - bank statements for instance. The plan is to use the details to 'steal your identity' - allowing them to either buy expensive items using your money (or simply steal it from your bank account) or, even worse, take out loans and such in your name (Not that you'd see the money). Just be careful what you throw in the bin.

10. Credit card fraud: So much for chip and PIN eh? If anyone thinks that the technology has stopped credit card fraud, just ask one of the 47.5 million TK Maxx customers whose credit card details were stolen from the company. It's almost impossible to prevent your details going astray in this way (short of boycotting all shops), so you just have to be vigilant when checking bank and credit card statements - if you see anything unusual contact your bank or credit card company immediately.


I agree with all of the above, but on all these sites no one ever mentions how gulable we are with our credit/debit cards and giving our information away. I have lost count at how many times i have stood in the supermarket queue and been able to watch people log their pin numbers in. WHY oh WHY do people not put a hand over the machine to protect themselves. I have even started making the comment to people that it was so easy for me to read their pin......Why do we think that we mustn't remove the machine and position our body so no one can view our details. Even at cash machines i still see this going on. People should watch 'THE REAL HUSTLE' on BBC3 (i think) they have shown how people just let their cards go out of their site, if its dropped on the floor or taken away for just a minute, these scammers can quickly swipe your card in a machine attached to their leg or person somewhere and watch you put your pin in. NEVER BE AFRAID TO QUESTION WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH YOUR CARD !!!

by goldencornfields, 11 Feb 2009

Alliance & Leicester security scam.Do not open it. Print it and take it to A&L.

by keithgrocott, 11 Feb 2009

Everyone should

1. own a shredder;
2. request bank statements (and other kinds) be electronic and not paper.

These two, simple steps will dramatically reduce your exposure.

Finally, if anyone calls saying they are from your (bank,credit card company,etc), say thank you and hang up. Call a number you know is good, NOT the number they give. Whatever the situation, you can bet your bank will transfer you to the right department.

by Security, 11 Feb 2009

I received an invoice from them yesterday in the amount of $139.95 for a manuscript they said I'd ordered via email. In that I have never ordered anything via email, I knew it to be a fraud attempt. The invoice come from someplace in Dover, Del.
I next did a name search on the Secret Society and learned that I wasn't the only person they'd picked on.

by TheSecretSociety, 12 Feb 2009

good article

by godfrey, 12 Feb 2009

Thanks. I have seen many of these scams courtesy of a TV program called The Real Hustle. Nonetheless,this is a wake-up call to many people.

by JustinBrooks, 12 Feb 2009


by SOLO32, 12 Feb 2009

My friend has a room to rent and is advertising locally and on the web. She's received 2 inquiries where the people are asking to rent the room. After some back and forth chatting over details, they then have a reason to give you money to secure the room b/4 they have to dash out of the country for some emergency. In order to send you money via wire, they then requested her checking acct number to get the rental money to her ASAP! Well, of course she didn't give them her acct info, but how many people are duped in this way? Many I'm sure who are needing to lease a room or property and think that they have an interested party on the hook!! Leasee's beware!!

by RentalLeaseScams, 12 Feb 2009

Ok here goes my 2 cents.

1 If I won ANYTHING it is suppossed ot be free so why sould I pay.

2. I do not need to respond to an email from my bank. I can walk ther ein a few blox.

3. As for TMAXX, I am puzzled: why would I even want to have a card fro payroll deposit when I have a checkng acct

by LM, 12 Feb 2009

It's funny that this subject has cropped up; in recent months I've noticed an increase in bizzare spam emails...Why do people fall for these scams? If something is too good to be true it ALWAYS is.

by TheThriftyShopper, 31 Mar 2009

Yeah I'm sick of all the spam email get on a daily basis at least 30 a day!

by Propertycashpoint, 20 Apr 2009

hi this really help people to be aware of scams i too registered with www.work2day.org for envelope stuffing home job did not mention any kind of fees or investment but when i received the letter in mail they asked for 25? as reg fees what people should do when we search serioulsy for job for our survival these hurdles come along life is getting really frustrated

by roserise, 10 Jun 2009

1. Open another email account with Yahoo or Google etc soley for internet transactions. That way only one of your accounts will get spammed. My personal account gets very little, 1 or 2 a week. My Google account I only use when I buy something or leave details with a company, I check it once a week and if necessary I delete everything in one go.

2. I have an account with Cahoot (part of Abbey as was) which gives me a virtual credit card. It is an icon on my computer which link directly to a current account I have with them (via password etc), I then choose a maximum amount I wish to spend and the card produces a one off 16 digit number. The next time I use the card the number will be different. This is also good when companies keep your card details (Yes they do!), mine of course are of no use to them as the transaction has completed. It works 80-90% of the time.

by JBM, 13 Jun 2009

12 aug 2009, my bank Abbey National gave me a 20pound fake note when i withdraw 3000pound, when i get back to them they told me i cant prove that the note was given by Abbey and they dont have any kind of record of the money they gave out

can anyone help me plz what should i do now

by AbidWali, 13 Aug 2009

I quess you would have to get close to a scam or be scammed to think it could happen to you, I am so poor and I so live from one pay check to the next, I had a lot a one time in my life, an accident came along and I lost it all. I am so itty bitty that I never thought that I would have to worry about being scammed I never ever payed any attention to news, They only thing that saved me from a scam was my morals and heart, I got lucky. Since, I have read a little and now I am scarred, soo will read alot more to be aware. My scare was with the hearing and speach impaired phone systems, Playing on my guilt of the poor person on the other end who was not capable and who just wanted to get a puppy for her granddaughter. Would mail me a certified check and then send a driver to pick up the puppy of Friday.. I will never sell one of my puppies to anyone I haven't met. that is what saved me Love, heart, for what I Love...compassion almost ate me alive

by TeriTayerle, 29 Sep 2010

I saw an advert for a free trial Dead Sea beauty kit and sent for this as it was only£3 95p then checking my bank account they took another &97 95p then another £36 81p this is a scam I now no to my cost .Be very carefull

by grann96, 5 Apr 2013

I was scam of £120 for a phone and the person give me their bank details to deposit the money into. What should I do.....I already made a complain to the police but the investigation gonna take mnths to complete.
Pls I need help.

by sheerg, 10 Oct 2013

I got done by the Petrol Scam, but unusually it was at the hands of a slightly shabby middle-aged lady in West Kensington. Here's my analysis of what happened: http://www.stuff-gubbins.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/the-con-artist.html

by phoenicks, 4 months ago

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