Have you nearly been fooled by a fake email from a delivery company? Has your bank called you and told you that you’d been defrauded and you need to change accounts?

Or has someone knocked on your door to tell you about a great new deal on your energy bills?

Fraud and scams are rife at the moment. With UK Finance due to reveal their latest annual fraud report soon (£1.2 billion stolen in 2022 and just under 3 million confirmed cases of fraud), let’s have a look at the main scams doing the rounds at the moment.

Delivery charges and parcels

Simple scams are the most effective. At any given point, we could be either expecting a parcel or delivery, or might have forgotten about something that we ordered. Scammers send ‘fishing’ emails, texts and messages which suggest that a parcel delivery has been missed or is due, or charges apply. The idea is you click on the link and hand over your personal details. Never, ever respond to these messages.

Advanced fee fraud

We often assume sites like WhatsApp are impervious to fraud because the conversations are encrypted. Sadly not.

You may receive messages from recruitment firms informing you that you’ve been headhunted you for fabulous new jobs. Alternatively you could be told you’ve qualified for a loan or credit at an advantageous rate. The major warning sign here is these messages are either unsolicited or from a different country. Then they’ll ask you to fork out a fee once they’ve lured you in.

Doorsteppers

I’m becoming increasingly concerned about people being targeted by fraudsters and unscrupulous tradespeople on their doorsteps, with reports suggesting this type of scam is dramatically increasing.

Doorstep scams usually involve signing you up to cheap energy or broadband deals that don’t exist. Alternatively they may try to convince you that there’s something wrong with your property, or that there is a government scheme that means you get free or reduced costs for home upgrades. A trustworthy business should never doorstep you. Politely decline and do some research online to find genuine and recommended tradespeople if you are considering having some work done.

Money transfer scams

‘Push payment fraud’ is the rather clunkily name for the most devastating of all of the scams. The scam works by tricking you in to either transferring large amounts of money or handing over your bank details to scammers pretending to be from your bank or an official organisation like the police. The fraudsters convince you your accounts have been compromised and either ask for access to your online banking passwords or tell you to transfer money to another account.

Hang up! If you are concerned, then call your bank on the number on its website or dial 159 – a number from Stop Scams UK that connects you to your bank or even businesses like Amazon – if you’ve been scammed and can’t find the number in time.

Number spoofing

Your phone might suggest your bank is calling, HMRC are messaging about a tax rebate, or your utility company or council have a good discount to help you get through the cost-of-living crisis. Don’t trust ‘em! It’s depressingly easy to ‘spoof’ telephone numbers so they look like they are coming from legitimate businesses or organisations. Always go direct to the business through their actual website or through the Gov.uk site if you want to find out about any genuine deals or discounts.

Password breaches

One last bit of advice. I was shocked to discover how many of my passwords that had been compromised by data leaks were still in use on websites. Let’s be honest, changing passwords is a faff, but essential. Why not change your passwords a bit at a time while watching the tele or listening to music to break the monotony? You can use password manager services if you struggle remembering passwords. Or why not just combine three random short words to create a new password, like ‘milk, ferret, gravel?!’ Please note, this is not my password!

Martyn James is a leading consumer rights campaigner, TV and radio broadcaster and journalist.

Please share me around

Share useful info with your friends