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Private: Prevention

Protect yourself


Frauds are becoming increasingly sophisticated and convincing – but all are designed to trick you into parting with your money.

Consumer scams

Consumer scams (also called advance fee, 419 or money transfer fraud) occur when a fraudster tries to entice you with a non-existent benefit such as a lottery win, a dream job or even the perfect date. But first you must make an up-front payment (usually by wiring money overseas) for an administration fee, ‘federal taxes’, a service charge, or to help someone travel to meet you for the first time. Once the money has been paid the fraudster disappears, taking your money with them.

View a short video created by Sussex Police on some common scams.  

Tips to protect yourself

  • Never use money transfer services to send cash to strangers (even if you’ve ‘met’ them online), to pay for taxes or fees on lottery winnings, or to pay administrative fees associated with a job offer.
  • Never allow strangers to use your bank account to receive cash or cheques.
  • Be very wary of people you meet on dating websites who, after you’ve built a rapport with them, ask to borrow money for medical treatment, to visit you, or to help a family member in need. These people are unlikely to be genuine love interests and will make further requests for money, leaving you out of pocket.

Read our factsheet on email and internet scams for more information.

Identity fraud

Identity fraud occurs when a fraudster impersonates you using fake, stolen or forged personal and/or financial information in order to obtain goods, money or services. As part of this, the fraudster may take over your bank account or open a new one in your name, or redirect your mail to another address.

Tips to protect yourself

  • Securely destroy all personal and financial information. Shred paper and permanently delete all your data from unwanted computers, tablets, mobile phones, memory sticks and other electronic devices before you get rid of them.
  • Always report lost or stolen credit/debit cards, passports and driving licences.
  • Regularly check your bank accounts for unusual transactions. Close accounts you no longer use.
  • Limit the amount of personal information you divulge online and over the phone. Never tell someone your bank account or credit card PIN, even if the person claims to be from your bank or the police. Think about what could happen if it got into the wrong hands.

Read our factsheet on identity fraud for more information.

Investment fraud

Investment fraud (also called boiler-room or high-yield investment fraud) occurs when a fraudster calls you out of the blue and tries to persuade you to buy financial products – such as shares or currency options, property or high-value goods – with the prospect of high returns or resale value. These may include unusual investments such as ‘prime bank guarantees’, fine wines, champagnes or whiskies, or plots of underdeveloped land, which are, in reality, worthless and often unregulated. 

Sometimes fraudsters will re-target old victims, promising to recover the money they’ve already lost to the original scam or offering to buy back the worthless shares – but always for an up-front free.

Tips to protect yourself

  • Be wary of unsolicited calls from ‘financial institutions’ or ‘brokers’. Don’t tell them your bank account details or other personal information (such as date of birth or full name), and never feel pressured to sign up immediately.
  • Do not assume that if something is marketed as an investment, then it is regulated and covered by the usual investor safeguards – this is not always the case.
  • Never buy from an unauthorised firm or person. Check that they are authorised to conduct investment business in your country by contacting the relevant financial regulator (eg, the UK Financial Conduct Authority).
  • Remember – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Read our factsheet on investment scams for more information.