This week is the first week of the Scams Awareness campaign, this annual campaign aims to

  • Give people skills to identify scams
  • Encourage people to share their experiences
  • Help people gain the confidence to report scams

In support of this we have put together our top five scams that can target anyone.

Energy- related scams

The cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy bills have prompted fraudsters to expand the types of scams used to target victims. Here are just a few of the energy-related scams in circulation.

  • Scammers pose as an energy supplier and send you an email stating that you are entitled to a refund on your energy bills because of a “miscalculation.” One version saw fraudsters posing as one of the big suppliers claiming people were entitled to a substantial refund, with a link to enter bank details to get your money back. Remember: check your most recent bill or call your supplier using the number on its website. If you pay by direct debit, your supplier will already have your bank details so would not request them again.
  • Scammers are calling people saying they are from a well-known price comparison site that is offering a special offer for a limited number of customers. They will stress that you must switch now to secure the deal. However, due to unprecedented market conditions, there are currently no deals on the market that are worth switching to, unless you are willing to pay a fortune for price certainty. Remember: price comparison sites should never cold call you.
  • Scammers have been known to impersonate government schemes that offer energy-efficient grants and initiatives. Be very wary of tradesmen offering related services and wanting your personal details. Remember: do not sign up to anything off the back of a cold call from a tradesman.
Holiday scams

It is the time of year when many of us are thinking of booking a holiday, and of course we want a good deal. Each year, fraudsters target unsuspecting holidaymakers and travellers conning them out of millions of pounds. Not only are people losing substantial sums of money but many holidays are being ruined, with people unable to afford a replacement. So what are the common types of scams?

Holiday booking fraud is when people pay money then discover the holiday, accommodation or flight does not exist. Fraudsters use the internet to set up fake websites or post fake adverts on social media. Remember: check the ABTA website to see if the company is a member and do some thorough research – do not rely on just one review. Also never pay into an individual’s private bank account.

Visas are required to visit many countries for a fee and are generally available online. Many official looking websites will charge an additional fee to assist with the visa and add nothing of value to the process. Remember: always go to the official government website to avoid these extra fees.

WhatsApp Scam

Action Fraud has received reports relating to a scam that steals access to a WhatsApp user’s account. The scam begins when a criminal gets access to another WhatsApp account which has you listed as a contact.

The criminal, posing as your friend or someone that is a member of a WhatsApp group, you are in, will then send you seemingly normal messages to try and start a conversation with you. However, around the same time you will receive a text message from WhatsApp with a six-digit code. This is because the criminal has been trying to login to WhatsApp using your mobile number.

The criminal will claim that they sent you their code by accident and ask you to help them by sending it to them. Once the criminal has this code, they can login to your WhatsApp account and lock you out. The criminal will then use the same tactic with your WhatsApp contacts in an effort to steal more accounts and use them to perpetrate fraud.

What you need to do to protect yourself on WhatsApp

  • Set up two-step verification to give an extra layer of protection to your account: Tap Settings > Account >Two-step verification > Enable.
  • If a family member or friend makes an unusual request on WhatsApp, always call the person to confirm their identity.
  • Never share your account’s activation code (that is the 6-digit code you receive via SMS)
  • You can report spam messages or block a sender within WhatsApp. Press and hold on the message bubble, select ‘Report’ and then follow the instructions.
Authorised Push Payment Scams

If a criminal tricks you into transferring money to them, it is known as an authorised push payment (APP) scam. It differs from other types of fraud, where criminals get access to accounts and steal money without the account holder’s knowledge.

With APP scams, criminals often try to persuade you to take action in a hurry. They make you panic before you have time to think it through properly.

There are a number of variations to this scam, here are just a few of them:

Impersonation scam – a criminal gets in touch and pretends to be from the police or your bank. They might also claim to represent a government department such as HMRC. They then convince you to make a payment to an account they control. Common scams include bogus claims that you must settle a fine, pay overdue tax or return a refund. Remember: be suspicious if someone calls you unexpectedly. Verify that they are genuine using known contact information.

Investment scams – a criminal convinces you to move your money to a fund that does not exist or to pay for a fake investment. The criminal will usually promise a high return. These scams include investment in items such as gold, property, cryptocurrencies or wine as examples. Remember: genuine investment companies will not cold call you. The Financial Conduct Authority has a register of authorised firms and individuals. Home (

Romance scams – fraudsters will use fake profiles on social media or dating websites to target their victims. They try to start a relationship and develop it over a long period of time. Once they have established their victim’s trust, the criminal will then claim to have a problem and ask for money to help. Remember: do not send any money to a person you have not met in person and keep all communications on the dating website or app that you are using.

Online shopping scams

Millions of us now shop online to purchase new or second-hand goods. However online shopping provides criminals with an opportunity to scam people into paying for goods and services that do not exist, often advertised via auction sites or social media with images taken from genuine sellers to convince you they are genuine. Criminals also use cloned websites with slight changes to the URL to trick you into thinking you are purchasing from the genuine site. Once the payment is made, the ‘seller’ either will not send the item or you will receive counterfeit goods. Remember: stay on the genuine website to complete any transactions and be suspicious of requests to pay by bank transfer. Use secure third-party payment services such as PayPal or Apple Pay and be very wary of offers that look too good to be true – they probably are!

If you have been a victim of a scam, you can report it to Action Fraud: or 0300 123 2040.

Scams can make you worried and stressed. The Citizens Advice website explains how you can get emotional support if you have been scammed.

For more information about how TIAA’s Anti-Crime Team can help you please contact: