Fraud is when someone deceives or tricks someone else for financial or personal gain. This can happen in person, online, through postal scams or over the telephone and often the victim of the fraud doesn't realise it has happened straight away. Fraudulent acts are also commonly known as cons, swindles, scams, extortion, cheats and hoaxes.

Banking fraud

This is when fraudsters contact you and pretend to be from your bank. They may ask you to transfer money to another account temporarily or they may ask you for passwords or bank account details. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of being a victim of banking fraud:

  • Don’t keep your bank card and pin number together
  • Don’t give your pin number to anyone and try not to write it down
  • Report lost or stolen cards as soon as possible. Some banks allow you to freeze your cards through online banking
  • Your bank will never contact you and ask you for passwords, account details or ask you to transfer money
  • Check your statements when you receive them and if you notice any unusual activity on your account, contact your bank as soon as possible and alert them to it
  • If you receive an email or text from your bank, check it to make sure it is genuine and don't click on any links
  • If your bank contact you in any way and you are unsure it is them, tell them you will contact them instead using a method you trust

Doorstep fraud

This is when a fraudster comes to your home. They may pretend to be someone else and gain access to your property or they may try and force you to pay for work to be done on your property by offering things like gardening services or roof repairs. Tips to keep yourself safe from doorstep fraud:

  • Install crime prevention information at the door to your property e.g. ‘Will not buy from doorstep sellers’ stickers
  • If you have a chain installed on your door, use it before opening your door fully
  • Consider putting a mirror up on the inside wall adjacent to your door which allows you to see outside whilst only opening the door with the chain on
  • Ask to see identification of anyone calling at your home, even if they are wearing an official uniform such as a police officer. If they are genuine they won’t mind
  • Set up passwords with regular callers or utility companies so you know it is a genuine caller
  • Don’t agree to sign up to anything on your doorstep no matter how insistent they are. Always think about it and ask someone else what they think before agreeing. A genuine company will not mind this
  • If you are offered a service at your doorstep or a leaflet pushed through the letterbox always check out the credentials of the company

Telephone fraud

Fraud can also happen over the telephone and older people or those who are socially isolated are more vulnerable to telephone tricksters. You can protect yourself from telephone fraud by:

  • Beware of “spoofing” – fraudsters can fake the official numbers of banks or other organisations when calling you. They may ask you to Google the number they’re calling from to try to convince you they are genuine. Always hang up the phone, look up the legitimate business number online, and then call from a different phone if you can
  • Don’t give out personal details over the phone. Your bank or other authorities like the police will never call and ask for bank details, or ask you to transfer money to a safe account. If in doubt, hang up and call back on a different phone using the number on the back of your card
  • Use call blockers or register with the Telephone Preference Service to prevent unwanted calls. Your telephone service provider will be able to tell you what they can do to help prevent unwanted calls

Postal scams

This is when letters are sent offering things like entry into prize draws or lotteries. Look out for post including:

  • Clairvoyant scams
  • Prize draws
  • Debt recovery scams
  • Hard luck stories
  • Catalogue scams
  • Be wary of any letter asking you to send money, even if 'free gifts' are offered

Investment Fraud

There are many different types of investment fraud. Usually, criminals contact people unexpectedly to try to convince them to invest in schemes or products that are either worthless or don’t exist. When the criminals have received payment, they stop all contact with the victim.

How to protect yourself from investment fraud – advice from South Yorkshire Police

Don’t rush into any investment. If someone contacts you unexpectedly, either by a call, email or through social media, be suspicious.

No legitimate organisation will pressure you into making a transaction on the spot and they won’t expect you to make a commitment there and then. Take time to do you research.

Ask for advice from trusted friends, family members or seek independent professional advice services before making any decision. Even genuine investment schemes can be high risk.

Use a financial advisor accredited by the Financial Conduct Authority. Paying for professional advice may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it will help prevent you from being scammed.

Always check the FCA Register to make sure you're dealing with an authorised firm and check the FCA Warning List of firms to avoid. Only use telephone numbers and email addresses on the FCA register.

Just because a company has a professional website and good reviews doesn’t mean it’s genuine - fraudsters will go to great lengths to convince you they are not a scam.

Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

For advice on how to report investment fraud, see the relevant links below.

Romance fraud

Romance fraud is scamming someone out of money by pretending to be in a relationship with them. This is done through online dating sites or apps and often the fraudsters will use fake profiles. They will gain the trust of victims and use this trust to scam them. Romance fraud can be devastating for victims.

Click here for Action Fraud's information on how you can spot the signs of romance fraud.

If you have been a victim of fraud

  • Try not to panic. This can lead to further issues
  • Don’t feel stupid. Fraudsters are very clever and know how to do what they do
  • Tell someone, a trusted friend or family member
  • Contact your bank or building society as soon as you can
  • If you aren't ready to talk to family, friends or the police, you can talk to Victim Support in confidence. You can contact us on 0300 303 1976

Reporting fraud

You can report fraud in a number of ways

  • Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and online crime and is where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced online crime
  • The police - 999 in an emergency or if the fraud is happening (such as doorstep fraud) or 101 if the crime has happened. You can also report crime on your local police force website
  • Trading Standards - if the fraud is related to poor goods or services - your local authority/council will be able to give you details of your local Trading Standards team
  • Your telephone and internet services providers may also be able to give you advice on what they are doing to keep their customers safe. Contact them directly to see what measures they can put in place to help you

Useful contacts

Action Fraud is the UK's national reporting centre for fraud. Access their website here.

Friends Against Scams is the national Trading Standards scams team who aim to prevent people becoming victims of scams. Click here to access their website.

South Yorkshire Police - fraud and scams information. South Yorkshire Police's fraud prevention pages on their website. You can download their 'little book of scams' from this site.

Humberside Police - fraud and scams information. Humberside Police's fraud and scams pasges on their website.

FraudWatch - An East Riding Voluntary Action Services (ERVAS) Project

FraudWatch is a project delivered by ERVAS that looks at fraud, preventing fraud and raising fraud awareness. The website has a information hub sharing lots of information for people to access.

Click here to access the FraudWatch information hub.

Humberside OPCC - Say No To Fraud campaign

In May 2021, the Community Engagement Team within the Humberside Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) launched a campaign to spread awareness about fraud. Featuring stories from real victims of fraud and information about how to prevent fraud and what to do if you are a victim of fraud, the website contains lots of useful information and links for victims of fraud in Humberside. You can view the website by clicking here.

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