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BBC - Be scam safe

Be scam safe is a campaign launched by the BBC in an attempt to provide you with advice on how to spot and avoid scams.

  1. Don't respond to any unexpected call, email, or text, without checking first. If it's out of the blue, check it's for you
    • if it's a call, hang up, find a number you can trust, and call back on that
    • if it's your bank, you can call back using the number on the back of your card
    • or, if concerned, dial 159 to be connected securely to most UK banks.
  2. Stop and get a second opinion if you're being forced to make a decision, or if you feel rushed
    • no legitimate organisation will object to you asking a friend, family member, or colleague for an opinion. Nor will it object to you saying no, or delaying your decision.
  3. Report every scam, even if it didn't work on you, to help others
    • forward suspicious texts to 7726, and emails to
    • report fraud directly to companies involved, to alert other customers

For more information go to

Some common scams

We're aware of messages impersonating the NHS. Customers are being told they're due a vaccine, or have been in contact with someone who has covid. The message has a link asking for personal information.

Criminals then use this data to try and impersonate genuine organisations such as your bank. They pretend to be your bank to try and convince you to move your money. They only have one goal in mind and that is to steal your money. They might say your account is at risk, and ask you to move it into a safe account.

How to keep yourself safe:

Never enter your details after clicking on a link in an unexpected email or text message.

Always confirm the source before sharing information. Call the genuine company or person a known and trusted number. Or by visiting their website without clicking on a link.

Last year, people in the UK lost £31.3m in romance scams. Criminals target people through dating sites and social media. They build up a relationship or friendship over time. Then, once they have a connection with you, they'll ask you to send money to them. And they'll always have a good-sounding reason.

These are phrases we've seen used by criminals in actual scams:

  • my account's frozen, and I can't access my money
  • I'm working overseas
  • I'm working on an oil rig
  • I've been arrested
  • my *family member* is sick
  • I’m struggling with medical bills.

New research from Santander shows almost a third (31%) of Brits have been targeted by a romance scammer. More than four in five Brits (83%) who fell victim to a romance scam said it was either the clever language the criminals use, the way they were spoken to, or the intimate conversations they had with the scammer.

Take a look at our new campaign 'Love Hurts'. We’ve teamed up with dating expert and Celebs Go Dating star Anna Williamson. The new campaign takes commonly used phases by scammers and puts them on Love Hurts sweets to help improve public awareness of key warning signs.

There's a rise in the number of fake HMRC emails going around.

These fake emails will try to grab your attention with urgent language or 'too good to be true' offers. The hooks criminals use will vary, but here are some of the common ones:

  • tax credit renewals deadline: 31/07/23
  • update your records
  • a £460 discount offer under the Energy Bill Support Scheme, but you need to add your card details.

Each email will ask you to click on a link and fill in your personal and financial details. The scammers will use time sensitive scenarios in their emails to make you enter your personal details without thinking.

Just remember:

  • HMRC will never send emails about rebates or refunds
  • never click on a link in an unexpected email and enter your details
  • you should always contact HMRC to verify any payment request using the number on the website or through your online tax account.

Some visitors to Tenerife have reported being targeted on the last few days of their holiday with tempting tech deals.

They're offered bargain mobile phones, laptops, and iPads by shop owners on the Spanish islands who then distract them as the purchase is going through. As the customer is distracted, the items are overcharged or replaced with a lesser value item.

Before buying something, ask yourself the questions below.

  • Does it sound too good to be true? If it is, then it's probably a scam.
  • Double-check the amount you've been charged on the payment device when authorising any transaction.
  • If your transaction has failed, ask for a receipt to show that it has. You can also check the transaction status in your Mobile Banking app.

Use the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) ScamSmart tool to check if your investment is a scam or not.

All you need to do is answer 4 easy questions and you'll get information on the potential investment and any possible risks. The tool will tell you if the company you're planning to invest with is regulated by the FCA or if there's a risk that it's a clone company.

It's always a good idea to take the time and carry out extra checks on a company before investing. For example, check that the telephone numbers you've been given match those registered to the company so you can contact them directly using the genuine number.

Criminals impersonate people you know and trust – even members of your own family.

They'll send a WhatsApp or message pretending to be a loved one.

The message will come from a new, unknown number claiming that their old phone is broken or lost. They'll go on to ask for money to buy a new phone or to pay an urgent bill.

The criminal will want you to act straight away, so they'll tell a story to try and push you to take urgent action. This stops you taking time to reflect on what’s happening and make you more likely to fall victim to their scam.

Always speak to the person before making any payments, either face to face or by calling their old number. Taking a moment to stop and think could save you losing your money.

As we feel the effects of higher energy bills, there's also been a rise in cost-of-living scams. Criminals are looking to exploit people by pretending to be energy companies and other trusted organisations.

Criminals are sending customers a link and asking them to sign up for the government's Energy Bills Support Scheme. However, you don't need to apply for the scheme. For more details, visit the Energy Bills Support Scheme page.

Always think about what you're being asked to do and carry out any checks you need to satisfy yourself that it's legitimate. If you're not sure or feel uncomfortable, stop.