Common scams and doorstep crimes

Identity theft - HMRC, council, banks and others

Investment fraud

Pension liberation scams

Romance fraud

Reporting a scam

More information

Identity theft - HMRC, council, banks and others

That unexpected income or council tax rebate email may be from a scammer after your personal or account details. They may also threaten fines for late payment or alert you about transactions on your bank account. Some even pretend to be from the police. Never reply to the text or email directly. Contact HMRC or the council directly by a number on their website, or in a telephone directory. One of the most common is fake HMRC emails offering tax refunds, examples can be found on HMRC GOV.UK website, with a contact for reporting them.

A local resident warned us of the email below pretending to be from the local council.

Support from your City Council

Dear customer,

You have an overpayment_city_council_return of 105.45 GBP due, for early September 2018.

If you need a refund from us, take a look at the following short videos:

·        What if I had an overpayment City Council tax bill?

You can also get your refund by direct debit. Visit GOV.UK for the information you need.

If you’ve already get your refund by post  – thank you.

This email was sent by Council and HM Revenue eNewsletters to xxxxxxxxxxxxx  customer we have on file

If you receive this please contact

In a recent case an experienced accountant was scammed out of £9,200 by a criminal who cleverly mirrored Metro Bank's security and customer service. The victim was taken through Metro’s standard security questions and authorisation codes received by text from Metro Bank enabled the criminal to transfer the money from his account. Read about this scam - I replied to a genuine bank tweet and lost £9,200 to a fraudster 

Thankfully this attempt by someone pretending to be from Microsoft failed.

Protect yourself against identity fraud

  • Shred documents with your name, address or financial details.
  • If you receive an unsolicited email or phone call from what appears to be your bank or building society asking for your security details, never reveal your full password, login details or account numbers. Most banks will not approach their customers in this manner.
  • If you are concerned about the source of a call, hang up and call your bank, or whoever is supposedly calling you, on a legitimate number printed on your bank statements or other documents.
  • Check statements carefully and report anything suspicious.
  • If an expected statement and it doesn’t arrive, tell your bank.
  • If you move house, always get Royal Mail to redirect your post.
  • Notify your bank immediately of any unusual activity on your account.

For more advice about online safety visit getsafeonline.

Investment fraud

Often initiated with an unsolicited phone call, investment fraud scams can include wine, shares, rare earth minerals and land investments overseas. Average losses are very high.

An example is investment scams carried out via bogus online trading platforms. The FCA have warned that crypto assets and forex investment scams reports more than tripled last year to over 1,800.

Another example is property fraud.  You may attend a free presentation and the fraudsters persuade you to pay for a useless course on how to make money dealing in property.  Or, you are given a chance to buy unbuilt properties at a discount. In many cases planning permission was never likely, so your money is lost.

In buy-to-let fraud, companies offer to find and manage properties for good rental income. In practice, the properties are near-derelict and the tenants non-existent.

Before considering any investment visit the Financial Conduct Authority website for advice and to check that the company is authorised to sell investments.

Pension liberation scams

Pension freedoms introduced in April 2015 give consumers added flexibility but it’s essential they make informed decisions using trusted sources. The Citizens Advice report ‘Too good to be true’ calculates that 8.4 million people have been offered unsolicited pension advice or reviews since April 2015. In a survey, 88% of consumers selected a pension offer containing scam warning signs, including out of the blue offers promising high returns, pressure to sign paperwork, and offers to access pensions before the age of 55. 

For advice on pensions visit: Pension wise website

Romance fraud

The perfect partner may be there online waiting for you, but so may a fraudster. Never send money to those you meet online, and revealing your full name, date of birth and home address may lead to your identity being stolen.  Read about an expensive example of this type of fraud - Cruel and manipulative' conmen scam £240,000 from women in online dating fraud

Reporting a scam

To report a scam call Citizens Advice on 03454 040506 or visit their website to use the online form to report a problem. Citizens Advice - Report a scam

More information

The Metropolitan Police also produce the Little Book of Big Scams (pdf) which highlights dubious practices designed to con people out of their money.

For more information about recurring or emerging scams visit Action Fraud or  Facebook Action Fraud.

On Twitter you can also follow @Actionfrauduk, and #scamaware.

If you think you can help support the campaign against scams, please visit the Friends Against Scams website

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