Be scam aware

Date published: 22nd May 2023

There are so many scams around these days, it’s worth knowing what to look out for and what can make you more vulnerable to scams that might target you.

Spotting a scam

A common way a scam starts is when you receive an email or text message you probably weren’t expecting. Often, the message will appear to be from some official organisation such as HMRC, DVLA or the TV Licensing authority.

If an unexpected email or text arrives, make some simple checks of your own:

  • Check the email for bad spelling and grammar
  • If the message starts with a general greeting instead of your name, for example, ‘Dear HMRC user’, it’s more likely to be a scam
  • You can search the internet for the sender’s details, the email subject line or the organisation’s name – you might find people discussing a scam
  • If the email asks for personal information, account numbers, address, or anything like that, it’s worth remembering that organisations like banks or HMRC will never do that
  • Check whether the email address matches the sender’s name or organisation – you might have to click on their name to see the actual email address
  • If ever you feel rushed into responding to an unexpected message, take a breath and pause.
It could be a scam if:
  • The message contains something that just seems too good to be true. Examples might include a super cheap smartphone or a holiday that costs much less than it should.
  • You may simply suspect you’re not dealing with a real company. Sometimes scammers will present themselves as a company but there’s no postal address, a warming sign it could be a scam
  • You’ve been asked to transfer money quickly. Remember, scammers will often put urgency into their scams to make you do something without thinking it through
  • You’ve been asked to pay in an unusual way.
  • You’ve been asked to reveal personal information like passwords or PINs. Remember, no legitimate bank or genuine organisation will ask you for complete passwords or PINs
Don’t click

You may have received messages by email or by text message that invite you to click on a link. Don’t do it. If the link is not from someone you know, it may lead to a download of malware to your phone or computer that could be used to compromise your personal information. Or it could download a virus.

Keep it secret, keep it safe

Make sure that your passwords are kept secure and use passwords that are strong, very hard to guess and never use on more than one account.

Report internet scams and phishing

Report misleading websites, emails, phone numbers, phone calls or text messages you think may be suspicious.

Do not give out private information (such as bank details or passwords), reply to text messages, download attachments or click on any links in emails if you’re not sure they’re genuine.


Forward suspicious emails to

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) will investigate it.

Text messages

Forward suspicious text messages to 7726 – it’s free.

This will report the message to your mobile phone provider.


Report scam or misleading adverts to the Advertising Standards Authority. You can report adverts found online, including in search engines, websites or on social media.

You can also report scam or misleading adverts to Google if you found them in Google search results, or report to Bing if you found them in Bing search results.

If you think you’ve been a victim of an online scam or fraud

Contact Action Fraud if you think you’ve lost money or been hacked because of an online scam or fraud and you’re in England or Wales. You can:

·         report online – either sign up for an account or continue as a ‘guest’

·         call 0300 123 2040