There are many different types of fraud – also known as scams, cons, swindles and more – targeting individuals. Fraudsters can pretend to be a company and trick you into handing over money and personal information. This can be via email (phishing), text (smishing), over the phone or in person.

With a bit of knowledge, you can make sure you’re one step ahead and protect yourself from fraudsters.

How to protect yourself from email, text and doorstep fraud

Emails, texts, or WhatsApp fraud

  • Don’t click on links in emails or messages unless you’re 100 per cent certain they’re genuine
  • Look out for spelling mistakes and typing errors as this is a sign of phishing emails or smishing texts
  • Be wary of any messages that ask you to act urgently or provide financial or personal information
  • If in doubt, don’t respond

You can report spam text messages directly to your mobile phone provider, free of charge, by forwarding them to 7726. You can find more information about how to report online scams and phishing emails at

Doorstep scams

  • Be wary of cold callers offering services. If you need a service, one of the best places to start your search is with your local council.
  • Bogus callers can knock at your door claiming to be from your utility company to try and gain access to your home. Always check their ID – if they’re genuine, they won’t mind waiting while you check.
  • Fraudsters can pretend they’re from a charity, asking you to donate money. Legitimate charities will all have a charity number, which you can check via the Charity Commission website.
  • Some scammers ask you to complete a survey so they can get hold of your details. Never give any personal information unless you’re 100 per cent sure you know how it will be stored and used.

If anyone knocks at your door saying they’re from Catalyst, they’ll always show their ID. If you’re still unsure, close the door and ask them to wait while you phone our contact centre to check.

Phone scams

  • Someone may call claiming to be from your bank. If they ask for your account and card details or advise you to move your money to a safe account, it isn’t genuine. Your bank will never ask you to do this – end the call immediately.
  • A scammer may call you claiming to be from the helpdesk of a well-known IT firm, such as Microsoft. They’ll tell you that your computer has a virus and ask you to download ‘anti-virus software. Do not do this and end the call. Legitimate IT companies don’t contact customers this way.

Other types of phone scams such as compensation calls, HMRC scams, number spoofing, pension investment scams and more are all ways of tricking you into handing over your money or personal information. Age UK offers lots of advice on spotting, avoiding, and reporting these types of scam calls.

What to do if you’ve been a victim of fraud

You can report fraud or cybercrime using Action Fraud’s online reporting service at any time of the day or night.

They also provide help and advice over the phone on 0300 123 2040.

Find out more

Find out more about the different types of fraud and sign up to receive alerts about scams in your area at ActionFraud.