Scams: Types of scam

Scams come in many disguises. Here are some common types of scam.

Online scams

Criminals use legitimate-looking messages and websites to trick people into opening the doors to their personal data, giving up logins, passwords or even payment details. That information can then be used to commit fraud and cyber crime. These are known as Phishing attacks.

They start with a message out of the blue. Whether it’s an email asking you to “verify” account information, or a text message claiming to be from your bank, the goal of a phishing attack is usually the same – to trick you into revealing personal and financial information.

Covid scams were popular during the pandemic, taking visitors to a fake NHS website that requested payment details. Authentic vaccination passes only available through the NHS app or at

Doorstep scams

There are many different types of doorstep scams, but rogue traders offering a service you may not need are the most common and are a scam.

Bogus officials can happen where an official looking person with a uniform and ID badge, turns up on your doorstep. They might say they are there to read the gas meter or conduct a survey for the local council.

Telephone scams

Someone may call claiming to be from your bank telling you there’s a problem with your card or account. The caller will often sound professional and try to convince you that your card has been cloned or that your money is at risk.

You receive a call from your ‘bank’ telling you that your bank card needs collecting.  You are instructed to hang-up and call the bank (to ensure the issue is genuine) but the scammer presses mute and stays on the line. They will then ask you to key in your PIN number before  sending a ‘courier’ to collect the card.

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 will ask you to download ‘anti-virus software’, possibly at a cost.

You may get a call from someone claiming to be from HMRC saying there is an issue with your tax refund or an unpaid tax bill. They may leave a message and ask you to call back. Again, don’t be fooled by this.

Postal scams

You may receive a letter congratulating you on winning a cash prize. But you won’t receive any prize, and you may be asked to call a premium rate number or to pay fees to ‘release’ your prize.

You may receive a letter addressed to you, which tells you that someone has left you money in their will. These letters can refer to real law firms and even have seemingly genuine email addresses, postal addresses, or websites.

Text messages

If you order anything online, you’re probably no stranger to a “your parcel has been delivered” text. Because you may be expecting something, scammers can easily hook unsuspecting people in. The messages often contain a link that brings you to a scam website.

Learn more about scams

To book a scam workshop for your community group or association email

Tips for staying safe

Advice for victims from West Yorkshire Police

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