Types of scams

Scammers manipulate people by “pushing their buttons” to produce the response they want. To stop scammers pulling you into their traps you need to know how to avoid them and prevent the responses they expect

What is a scam?

Put simply, a scam is a scheme to con people out of their money. Fraudsters will use whatever means and methods they can, for example, building up trust and tempting with offers that are ‘too good to be true’ or more sophisticated methods like stealing someone’s identity – commonly known as, identity fraud.

Most popular / top-5 scams

Computer services software fraud (Commonly known as Microsoft scam)

Fraudsters posing to be from legitimate companies, such as your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or companies such as Microsoft, claiming that they will fix your computer for a fee. They may cold call you to offer this, or create a fraudulent website, pop-up or ads in order to lure you into calling them. What they’re really after is remote access to your computer and your financial details.  


Phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords or credit card details. Criminals can spoof email addresses to make it appear as though the email you’ve received was sent by a person or company you recognise. These emails will often include attachments containing malware, or links to websites designed to steal your personal or financial information. Don’t open attachments or click on links within any unsolicited emails you receive.


Ransomware is a form of malicious software (malware) that enables cyber criminals to remotely lock down or encrypt the files on your device. Criminals use ransomware to extort money from you (a ransom), and will claim to restore access to your files or device once you have paid. Ransomware can be delivered in various ways; for example, via attachments in authentic looking emails purporting to be from genuine companies.

Identity fraud / impersonation

Britain’s fastest growing crime. Fraudsters get hold of your data in a variety of ways, from hacking and data loss to using social media. 53% of all fraud (174,523 cases) were Identity Fraud – that’s a staggering increase of 49% on the previous year.

Investments (including pensions) scams

High pressure sales or range of investment opportunities, sometimes promising above average rates of return. Scammers try creating a sense of urgency to the investment which aims to make people part with their money. Follow the links on the right to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on how to avoid falling for a victim.

Considering an investment? Check out the FCA warning list first
FCA Authorised firm? Check out the FCA Register

Ransomware guidance

Ransomware guidance

Advice from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)

We're here to help

Go to our Help and support section for tips and advice on making this site easier to use, using our services, understanding impairments, and contacting us. To get in touch right now, use the Email, Chat or BSL links.