Fraud and scams

Fraud is a criminal activity committed by those acting in a deceitful way.  There are many different types of fraud, but all have the same principles.

What is fraud?

Fraud is when trickery is used to gain a dishonest advantage, which is often financial, over another person.

There are many words used to describe fraud: scam, con, swindle, extortion, sham, double-cross, hoax, cheat, ploy, ruse, hoodwink, confidence trick.

Individuals and businesses can be victims of fraud.

Types of fraud can include:

  • bank account fraud
  • benefit fraud
  • business trading fraud
  • charity donation fraud
  • computer software service fraud
  • dating fraud
  • doorstep fraud
  • employment fraud
  • gambling fraud
  • holiday fraud
  • identity fraud and identify theft
  • insurance fraud
  • lottery scams
  • mortgage fraud
  • online fraud
  • property fraud
  • ticket scams

For a full list of the types of fraud, have a look at Action Fraud’s A-Z of fraud.

What is the difference between scams and fraud?

There is no difference, scams ARE fraud.

How you could become a victim of fraud

There are four enablers of fraud. An enabler is the means a fraudster uses to make contact with victims. They are

  • Telephone
  • Doorstep sellers/traders
  • Postal
  • Internet

However to make the fraud successful, they rely on the victim making an action.

There are many different types of fraud for each of these enablers, but for the fraud to be successful, they rely on the victim making an action such as clicking a link.  


Never talk about money on the telephone to unsolicited callers.  Hang up the phone. If the caller claims to be genuine, wait ten minutes after you have hung up and check it out using contact numbers you can verify yourself (not the ones given to you by the caller).

Waiting ten minutes gives you time to think, and also ensures your phone is properly disconnected from the last caller.

Doorstep sellers and traders

If you’re not sure, don’t open the door.  Doorstep sellers rely on you to engage with them. If you don’t open the door in the first place then you can’t be persuaded or pressurised to buy something you either don’t want or don’t need.

If they appear to be official, are you expecting them? If not, then check it out by calling the company or agency using a telephone number you can verify.  If the person knocking on your door is genuine then they will wait for you to check them out. Remember, you can do all of this without opening your door at all.


If it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is.  This is especially true if you are being asked to send money up front before you can release your promised winnings or inheritance.  Whilst the amount of money paid up front may be quite small and initially easily affordable, engaging with one of these competitions may result in your details being shared amongst other scams or frauds.


Do not to click on any links from unsolicited emails and move them straight to your “spam” folder (where any malicious links are automatically disabled). Don’t allow anyone remote access to your computer from an unsolicited phone call. Where you can, use a two factor authentication for your online accounts. 

When using online auction sites, never go out of the site rules for contact or purchasing with sellers. That way if things do go wrong, you have the site's protection to resolve the dispute.

Take Five

Take Five is a national awareness campaign led by FFA UK  (part of UK Finance) backed by Her Majesty’s Government and delivered with and through a range of partners in the UK payments industry, financial services firms, law enforcement agencies, telecommunication providers, commercial, public and third sector, urges you to stop and consider whether the situation is genuine.

Their five-point advice is:

  1. Never disclose security details
  2. Don’t assume everyone is genuine
  3. Don’t be rushed
  4. Listen to your instincts
  5. Stay in control

Find out more on the Take Five website.

Report it

If you think you have been a victim of fraud, even if it was unsuccessful you should report it. If you do not report it, the fraudster will learn by the experience and may be successful next time.

Action Fraud
Action Fraud is the UK's national fraud and internet crime reporting centre. They can provide information about fraud and financially-motivated internet crime. If you have been scammed, ripped-off or conned, you can report it to Action Fraud.

Report fraud to Action Fraud
0300 123 2040

More help and support

Action Fraud
0300 123 2040

Little Book of Big Scams by Met Police

Get Safe Online

Age UK

Citizen's Advice

Take Five

Victim Support

Friends Against Scams

Think Jessica
Postal fraud
Telephone scams
Doorstep crime

28 May 21 11:50 AM

Find your neighbourhood

Use my current location