How to protect yourself against scams.

How to report scams

Reporting scams helps us to build up intelligence on the scammers and how they target people. You can report fraud and cybercrime or telephone the Citizens Advice consumer helpline: 0808 223 1133 (freephone).

Digital switchover - potential scams.

The transition from analogue to digital technologies has created new opportunities for criminals to target residents. For example, criminals may use phishing emails, fake websites, or phone calls to trick residents into providing personal information, such as bank account details or passwords.

This information can then be used to steal money or commit identity theft. There is also the potential for increases in criminality through rogue traders selling equipment, charging for unnecessary work, or trying to pressurise members of the community into new contracts related to the digital switchover.

Around 1.8 million people use healthcare devices nationally, and we are concerned that reports of scams will increase as the 2025 switchover date approaches.

As with all scams, we advise you to contact your bank to stop any payments and discuss this with family or friends. Report any scams or fraudulent activity to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via their website.

QR code scams in car parks.

Scammers have been sticking fake QR codes on ticket machines in car parks.

Ticket machines often contain scannable QR codes, which enable drivers to download the car park operator's app to pay for their parking. However, scammers are sticking fake codes to machines in an attempt to trick victims.

If you scan a fake code, you will be taken to a website where you will be asked to enter your payment details. If you enter your details, you may be signed up for a recurring monthly payment.

Always check to see if there is not another QR code underneath it.

TV licence scam

If you receive a text message regarding your TV licence please do not click on any links provided including to set up a direct debit.

TV licencing will never send you a text saying you are entitled to a refund, ask you to set up a payment plan, or ask you to provide your bank details, they will never ask you for your personal information and they will not send you a text saying they can offer you a cheaper TV licence.

If in doubt call TV licencing from the telephone number on your Paper TV licence.

Mobile phone scams

Be aware if you receive a text apparently from your son/daughter/grandchild stating for example

  • "I have borrowed a phone as I have lost my phone/its been stolen. Can you please send me money as I cannot get home or I cannot buy food/pay rent. Could you please help me by transferring the money to this account?" giving a new sort code and account number
  • “Hi mum I am texting off a friend's phone I have smashed mine and this phone is about to die, can you please WhatsApp my new number straightaway?"
  • “Mum/Dad, I have dropped my mobile phone down the loo/toilet, please can you transfer money to this account? I have no access to my bank account and I urgently need money to pay bills/or go shopping for food"

These messages are often used by scammers to persuade friends and family to urgently send money to new bank accounts.

Amazon gift card email scam

Gift cards are popular with criminals as they are difficult to trace and can be used to launder money.

This scam begins with a fraudster sending a bogus email posing as someone in your contacts list requesting gift cards for a retailer such as Amazon. 

The scammer gives a spurious reason as to why they cannot purchase the cards themselves, such as being out of town, too busy with work, or having an issue with their debit card. 

As the message appears to be from someone you know, you might assume the request is genuine and agree to purchase the gift cards. 

The scammer can then simply ask you to share the serial numbers of physical gift cards bought in a store or request that you buy digital gift cards and send them to a specified email address. 

Pets Reunited scam

There are reports of scam calls to owners of missing pets listed on Pets Reunited. Please be vigilant, these scam calls are often very convincing!

The caller claims to be from a vet, the RSCPA, or a rescue centre informing owners they need to pay immediately as their beloved pet needs an operation, Or they may ask for a small 'release fee' (around £5) in order for a pet to be released back to its owner.

Please do not be taken in by this. It is a scam

If you're unsure if this is a genuine call about your missing pet - take the name of the vet or rescue centre and google it, find the contact details yourself and then contact them directly. If they are genuine - they won't have a problem with this. Do not use the number the scammers offer you. Hang up the phone! If you're using a landline, make sure that they are not still on the line after you've hung up.

Local website

Springtime scam

Residents are to be wary of cold callers or leaflets offering to do garden clearances, tree cutting and work to roofs and gutters.

OCC's Trading Standards team is encouraging caution if anyone knocks and offers to start work immediately, particularly if they are pushy or claim that urgent repairs are required. Each year, springtime and the start of the growing season results in an increase in offers to assist with gardening.

Here are some top tips from Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team:

  • If it is out of the blue, it’s not for you! Don’t agree to work from an unsolicited, cold call. 
  • Be aware of ‘alarm bell’ tactics, claims such as – ‘I was working in the area and saw that your garden/roof needed urgent attention’; ‘we are working at one of your neighbours’ and we have some material left over’; ‘I can take you to the bank/cashpoint to get the money’.
  • Take five to stop fraud. Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe. Trust your instincts.
  • If you want some work undertaken, get a number of detailed quotes in writing, including full contact details and a detailed breakdown of exactly what work will be done.
  • Be cautious about any requests for large deposits. For larger work, agree when staged payments will be paid and what work should be completed before any money is handed over. And stick to what is agreed.
  • Check with friends and family for trusted recommendations and consider a trading standards’ approved trader, from the Buy with Confidence scheme.
  • Consider learning more about how scams work and how you can protect yourself and others, by becoming a Friend Against Scam.

For more advice on consumer rights, or to report a rogue trader to trading standards, contact the Citizens Advice national consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or by visiting its website

Cost of living scam

Scam Phone Calls

Fake Automated Calls Claiming to be Banks and Card Companies

Be aware of suspicious automated phone calls pretending to be from your bank or card company. With this scam, customers will receive an automated call claiming that a suspicious transaction has occurred on their account and needs to be verified. The customer is then prompted to press a number on their phone to be taken through to a supposed 'agent', who is actually a criminal.

Banks or the Police will never contact you asking for your card PIN number, online banking password, or for you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons. The Police will never ask you to withdraw money purporting it to be part of an investigation and they will collect it from your home address.

If you feel something is suspicious, doesn’t feel right or you feel vulnerable, hang up and call your bank or card issuer straight away on the advertised number, or the help number on the reverse of your bank card.

Five things to look out for on a scam phone call:

  • The caller does not give you time to think, tries to stop you from speaking to a family member or friend, or is insistent and makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • The caller asks you to transfer money to a new account, claiming it is for fraud reasons.
  • You receive a phone call from someone pertaining to be from your bank and they ask you for your 4-digit card PIN or your online banking password. Even if they ask you to give it to them by tapping into the telephone keypad rather than saying the numbers out loud, this is a scam.
  • They ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them for safekeeping.
  • They may say you are a victim of fraud and offer to send a courier to your home to collect your cash, PIN, payment card or chequebook.

Fake text messages and emails relating to cost of living and energy

The government is offering help for households but beware of criminals pretending to offer these support schemes. These scam emails and text messages come in many different forms and promise financial gain. They often look official and pretend to be from the government or HMRC.

Examples include:

  • fake cost of living related grants
  • fake cost of living relief funds
  • fake council tax reductions, rebates or refunds
  • fake tax rebates from HMRC
  • fake offers of assistance to help with universal credit applications

Look out for text messages and emails asking you to click on a link and check the official government website – do you need to apply for the support or is it paid automatically?

Did you know? You can easily report scam text messages and emails for free:

Households across Great Britain will receive a £400 non-repayable discount on their electricity bills, via the government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme. However, there is no need to apply for the scheme. You will not be contacted by the Government or Ofgem asking you to share your bank details to claim this benefit.

Find out more about the government support available - Help for Households

Loan fee fraud

The Financial Conduct Authority loan fee fraud campaign is to help increase awareness and educate consumers on loan fee fraud and encourage consumers to check if a loan provider is authorised before taking out a loan.

Loan fee fraud is one of the most common types of scams reported to the FCA with people losing £260 on average. Unfortunately, those most vulnerable to this type of fraud are often the people who can least afford it. Our target audience is 25-45 (average age of 37) working in manual occupations or unemployed and skews more towards males.

Ukraine scams

Fraudsters are attempting to take advantage of people’s generosity during the crisis in Ukraine.

Perpetrators are using the humanitarian crisis to scam the public of their money and deny vital support to the people of Ukraine.

Examples are:

  • Fraudsters are asking for money to release frozen funds in bank accounts. This may be an attempt to access your personal bank accounts and steal your personal information or bank details.
  • Be aware of fake websites with links that if clicked on, download malware to steal personal information or bank details
  • Emails showing potentially a photoshopped photograph with urgent requests for help to send funds for flights, visas, and support for family members.
  • Cash donations or Cryptocurrency scams with sites listing addresses for Bitcoin and Ethereum for Ukraine donations will never reach anything other than criminals' accounts.

Only use genuine charities that are registered with the Charities Commission. You can search the charity register on the GOV.UK website.

COVID-19 scams

The NHS will never ask for personal details or bank details or payment for the COVID-19 vaccination - it is free. View the warning produced by Surrey Trading Standards (same as for Oxfordshire).

Online shopping

These days you can buy almost anything online. But not everything is always as it seems. Some retailers use sneaky sales tactics to dupe you into parting with your money – often before you’ve had a chance to properly think it through. We’ve turned the online marketplace into a real street market to show you exactly what’s happening – and help you shop more confidently. Visit our online street market.

Amazon scam

Phone scammers posing as Amazon are still trying to trick people in Oxfordshire.

A North Oxford resident said she received a call and when she picked up an automatic message said: "You have been charged £89 for your Amazon shopping."

"If this is true, please dial 1, to speak to an operator. If you put the phone down, you will be charged £89 and the goods will be delivered."

She said she hung up as it was 'clearly a scam' but she wanted to warn others not to fall for it.

The scammers are also sending emails that look real from Amazon with the same information and you are told to click on the link. The advice we give is to delete the email, don't click on the link.

For more information and news about scams go to the Action Fraud website.

HMRC alert

Action Fraud has experienced an increase in the reporting of malicious calls, voicemails, text messages or emails to members of the public purporting to be from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The fraudsters state that as a result of their non-payment of tax or other duty, the victim is liable to prosecution or other legal proceedings such as repossession of belongings to settle the balance but can avoid this by arranging for payment to be made immediately by method such as bank transfer or by iTunes gift cards.

If the victim is hesitant or refuses to comply, the suspect makes a threat such as immediate arrest, bailiffs or in cases where the victim appears to be of overseas origin; deportation.

Once the money is paid the suspects sever all contact.

What you need to do

  • Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information. 
  • Listen to your instincts. If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it.
  • Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision. 
  • Report phishing attempts. If you receive a call, text or email of this nature and have not lost money, report this as a phishing attempt to Action Fraud.

Loan sharks

You don't have to pay if you have been caught by a loan shark. Check out this helpful newsletter and film to show you what can be done to help.

Investment scams

The number of reports of ‘clone firm’ investment scams has increased by 29% since the UK went into its first pandemic lockdown.

Clone firms are fake firms set up by scammers using the name, address and registration number of real companies authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

With consumers reporting average losses in excess of £45,000 each, and 77% of investors unsure of what a ‘clone investment firm is’, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is issuing a warning to the public and encouraging investors to verify the specific details of a firm, such as the telephone number and website address on the FCA Register -

National Scams Awareness

Our annual Scams Awareness campaign aims to create a network of confident, alert consumers who know what to do when they spot a scam.

If you're looking for advice and support on scams please visit Citizens Advice online advice pages.

Hear this poem that tells us what to look out for -

Help stop people falling prey to scams

Consumers lose approximately £9 billion to scams each year.

We’re asking people to help us tackle scams in Oxfordshire by getting to know the common signs, warning others, and reporting incidents to us so we can investigate.

If you have been a victim of a scam or know someone who has and would like advice, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133, or call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report a scam.

Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team initiative, which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering communities to "Take a Stand Against Scams".

Anybody can join Friends Against Scams and make a difference in their own way.

How to spot a scam

Scams are more common than most people realise. Every day our Trading Standards Team hear from people who have lost money to a scam artist.

Some scams are one-offs that persuade you to part with a lump sum, while others go after your personal details so they can access your money or copy your identity.

Cold calls, high-pressure sales tactics and automated voicemails asking for people’s details are just some of the tricks scammers are using to rob you of your hard-earned money.

Is it a scam?

Scams come in a variety of guises and we see new ones emerging all the time. However, there are common hallmarks to every scam and we’re keen to show people what to look out for so they don’t fall prey to a fraudster.

  • Don’t be rushed – resist pressure to make a decision straight away.
  • If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
  • Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams.
  • If you haven’t bought a ticket – you can’t win it.
  • Never send money to someone you have never met or don’t trust.
  • You shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize.
  • Contacted out of the blue – be suspicious.
  • Reject cold calls offering investments or pension advice.
  • Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance.
  • Your bank will never attend your home to collect cash, your pin, payment card or chequebook if you are a victim of fraud.
  • Your bank will never phone you to ask for your PIN or your online banking password.
  • Your bank will never ask you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons.
  • Suspect a phone scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call your bank.
  • Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.

How you can take a stand against scams

  • Say No. To unwanted, uninvited callers.
  • Be wise to rogue traders. Too good to be true offers probably are.
  • Don’t feel pressured to make a decision. Say ‘No’, or say you need advice first.
  • Be wise to postal scams. No legal company will ask you for money to claim a prize.
  • Keep personal details safe. They could be used fraudulently in the wrong hands.
  • Research the credentials of the company. Be certain they’re not bogus.
  • Be online savvy. Check who you’re communicating with online.
  • Talk to someone you trust. If you’re suspicious.
  • Report a scam. Help expose the criminals.
  • Know you are not alone. Anyone can be a victim, report it and get the right support.

Fraud awareness videos

Scammers are constantly changing their tactics. Understanding their techniques will help protect you against them. Different kinds of scams seem to lure different types of people. The best defence is awareness and education so you can spot the warning signs.

Scam mail

Download our free Sinister Path of Scam Mail chart (pdf format, 1.2Mb).

Help for consumers from Citizens Advice

Find out about types of scam and how to spot and report scams. Look for signs to watch out for if you look after someone who could be vulnerable to scams.

Watch out for cyber scams

Don’t become prey to an online fraudster. Find out how to protect yourself against becoming one of them. 


The latest scam news from the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and internet crime.