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Common scams

This advice applies to Scotland

A scam is a type of fraud where someone steals your money or information. The most common scams are online, but you can be targeted by post or with a text message or a phone call.

Coronavirus scams 

There have been many coronavirus scams, including: 

  • doorstep scams - asking for money or to take your temperature 

  • online scams - websites pretending to sell hand sanitiser and masks  

  • phone or text scams - pretending to be from HMRC or the World Health Organisation (WHO) 

  • scam emails - hackers sending emails that look like they’re giving information about coronavirus

  • contact tracing text scams – the text has a link to a website that asks for your personal details. NHS Scotland’s contact tracers won’t ask you to provide details of bank accounts or social media accounts, to set up a password or PIN over the phone, or to call a premium rate number, like one starting 09 or 087. Check how contact tracing works in Scotland on NHS inform.   

  • contact tracing call scams - a contact tracer from NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect will only call you from 0800 030 8012. They'll give you the option to call back on that number if you want to make sure it’s not a scam. Check NHS inform’s contact tracing guidance to find out more, including what information you’ll be asked to give.

If you’ve been contacted by a person you’ve never heard of, or a company you’ve never used, it’s likely to be a scam.  

You should also be careful about answering the door to anyone you weren’t expecting - especially during coronavirus, when you should stay physically distant from people you don’t live with as much as possible.  

Coronavirus scams can be difficult to recognise, but there are things you can look out for

To find out how to report a coronavirus scam, use our chat service

If you’ve entered your bank details and think it might have been a scam, you should contact your bank immediately. You can also contact the police on 101.

TV Licensing scam emails and texts

Scam TV Licensing emails use subject lines like ‘correct your licensing information’ or ‘your bank declined the latest direct debit’. They often try and convince you to hand over personal information such as bank details. 

If you’re unsure about a TV licence email, check the list of common signs of a scam on the TV Licensing website

Scam TV Licensing texts may ask for personal information such as bank details or your security code. Find out how to identify a scam text on the TV Licensing website.

To find out how to report a scam TV Licensing email or text, use our chat service. If you have entered bank details, you should contact your bank immediately. You can also contact the Police on 101.

HMRC scam texts

HMRC scams texts can say something like ‘HMRC have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of 228.37 GDP’. The text may include a link which takes you to a fake website, which looks the same as the UK Government website.

To get advice about an HMRC scam text, use our chat service. You can report HMRC scam texts directly to HMRC using the details on the HMRC website.

If you have entered bank details, you should contact your bank immediately. You can also contact the Police on 101.

PayPal scam emails

You may have received a scam email from PayPal about ‘suspicious activity on your account’. Other common scams tell you that your account has been suspended or that you are due a refund.

A quick way to identify a scam email is to check the sender’s email address. If it’s something like zxk1942R3@gmail.com, it’s a scam. You can find more ways to check for scams on the PayPal website.

If you have entered sensitive information or bank details, you should change your password and security question as soon as possible. You should also report it to PayPal and your bank.

If you need more advice, you can use our chat service or you can call Police Scotland on 101.

Scam bank text messages 

Scam bank texts may ask you to call a number or visit a website to verify your details. A bogus text may also ask you for a pin or passcode, or tell you that you are due a refund. The message will try to alarm you and make you act quickly.

Find more information about how to spot a scam bank text on the Police Scotland website.

If you receive a scam bank text, avoid clicking on any links in the message and contact your bank as soon as possible. Most banks have a dedicated scam service that will be able to help.

To find out how to report a scam bank text, use our chat service. You can also contact the Police on 101.

Dating and romance scams

Dating scams often start with a sad or ‘hard luck’ story. Once they’ve gained your trust, or declare their love, they may ask for money or gifts.

It can be difficult to spot a dating scam so it may be worth sharing your experience with a friend or a relative to get their opinion. There is more advice about avoiding dating scams on the Get Safe Online website.

If you’re suspicious, report the person to the dating website you’re using. To get advice on dating and romance scams, use our chat service.  You can also contact the Police on 101.

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