All fraud information on these pages comes from advice given by Action Fraud.

Account takeover

An account takeover happens when a fraudster poses as you and gains control of your account and uses it to make unauthorised transactions. Types of account that can be taken over includes:

  • Your bank account
  • Your credit card account
  • Your email account

Online bank accounts are usually taken over following a phishing scam, or by computer spyware or malware.

Application fraud

Application fraud happens when fraudsters open an account or apply for a service using someone else’s name. This is a result of identity fraud.

Bank account fraud

Does your bank statement show transactions you didn't make?

You may be a victim of bank account fraud. Bank account fraud can happen as a result of identity theft if your bank cards or other bank account information have been stolen.

Bank card and cheque fraud

If your bank account information, bank cards or cheque book are stolen, fraudsters can gain access to your money. They might take money from your account or run up credit in your name and you might not realise until you check your bank statement or your card is refused when you try to use it. Do you know how fraudsters can steal money from your bank account?

Benefit fraud

Benefit fraud is a criminal offence that occurs when someone lies to obtain state benefit they are not entitled to or deliberately fails to report a change in their personal circumstances. This means that anyone who has committed benefit fraud can be prosecuted and, if convicted, receive a criminal record.

Betting fraud

Betting fraud could involve betting on any sport but often involves horse racing. Fraudsters will pose as experts and offer you ‘inside information’ or a ‘foolproof’ way to win. They might offer to send you confidential information if you pay a subscription fee. Or, instead of a fee, they might ask you to use your money to place a bet on their behalf and send them their winnings. 

Boiler room fraud

Boiler room fraud is often known as either share sale, hedge fund or bond fraud. It involves fraudsters cold calling members of the public to try to get them to buy shares which are either worthless or do not exist. They pose as stockbrokers, using hard-sell techniques to offer investment opportunities in the form of shares. They may refer you to a fake website or present fraudulent share certificates and other false documents in order to make the investments seem valid.

Be wary, these fraudsters try to pressure people into purchasing shares by rushing them into quick, spur-of-the-moment decisions. Fraudsters also try to make their business seem legitimate by using technical jargon and introducing themselves with impressive job titles to imply they have authority.

Once they’ve taken your money, boiler room fraudsters quickly disappear so that they can’t be contacted.

Business directory fraud

Business directory fraud happens when a business receives an official looking letter or form in the post, email or fax offering a “free” listing in a business directory. Even if you don't want to place an order you are asked to return the form but the small print states you are committing to an ongoing entry in the directory which costs hundreds of pounds a year.

Business trading fraud

Business trading frauds include long and short firm fraud as well as insolvency and bankruptcy related frauds. This fraud type involves a seemingly genuine business operates to defraud customers and suppliers.

  • Long firm fraud - The business has developed a good reputation and credit history.
  • Short firm fraud - The bogus business has been in operation for a few months. This type is usually internet-related.
  • Insolvency and bankruptcy fraud - Usually involves companies fraudulently trading immediately before being declared insolvent.

Call centre fraud

Call centre fraud occurs when fake call centres are set up or existing legitimate call centers are hacked in order to steal personal information from customers. Fraudsters will use these call centres to commit fraud such as identity fraud and advance fee scams.

Career opportunity scams

A career opportunity scam is when people respond to false job advertisements posted by fake companies. It might offer a business opportunity or self-employment that lets you work your own hours to earn a high income. Main examples include casting or model agencies who promise to launch your career quickly and earn you lots of money, usually starting with an initial consultation which will require cash up front.

The fraudsters will give reasons for this such as, set up fees and research costs but the promised career will never materialise.

Cash point fraud

It is usually safe to use a cashpoint but sometimes they are targeted by fraudsters. Things to consider when you're at the cash point:

  • Always look at the card insertion point before using it - if it looks like it has been tampered with, don't use it.
  • If you realise the machine has been tampered with after you've put your card in - call your bank while at the machine if it is safe to do so.
  • Always shield your hand when entering your PIN - Action Fraud also provide more information on how to avoid cash point fraud on their website.

PIN reversal hoax

There is a common online hoax advising people to insert their PIN number in reverse order to alert police if they are being threatened to withdraw cash. This is a hoax and is falsified information so we ask you not to act upon this.

Charity donation fraud

Charity donation fraud is when fraudsters play on your sympathy by asking you to make a donation to a charity that doesn’t exist. In most cases, requests for donations are often linked to a recent, high-profile event such as a natural disaster.

The various ways to donate carry a number of implications:

  • Online donations - fraudsters can record your bank or credit card details and use them to facilitate purchases on your account.
  • Telephone donations - calls may be directed to a premium rate number which means you will be charged a hefty sum for the call as well as the money from your donation.
  • Donating items - if you donate household items or clothing, fraudsters will sell the items and keep the profits.

Action Fraud have more information about charity fraud donation available on their website.

Charitable publication scams

A telesales agent will call a business selling advertising space in a fake publication for a seemingly good cause. They will give the impression that there is a legitimate partnership with either a local charity, emergency service, crime prevention or community health initiative. Sometimes  they will claim that a previous order has been placed or that someone else in your business has agreed to take out advertising space. Rogue publishers may send invoices to businesses who had said no to their telephones sales pitch or follow up the invoices with threats of legal action.

Cheque fraud

Any illegal use of cheques to acquire or borrow funds is considered cheque fraud. Types of cheque fraud include counterfeiting, forged cheques, fraudulently altered cheques, using disappearing ink on cheques, bad cheque writing and cheque washing.

Cheque overpayment fraud

Fraudsters often use cheque overpayment in employment scams or in transactions for goods and services sold through classified adverts. Often the fraudster is reimbursed for the overpayment before you discover the cheque was not genuine. This is also a technique used in career opportunity scams.

If you are an individual rather than a business, this type of fraud is called advance fee fraud.

Click fraud

Click fraud is a type of illegal internet crime that occurs when individuals or automated programmes click on Pay Per Click (PPC) advertisements in order to inflate a company’s advertising bill. PPC is advertising used on websites, where advertisers pay only when their ad is clicked on. When the PPC limit is reached, the adverts and links are no longer displayed. Click fraud therefore affects companies who lose money each time their advert is clicked on. Competing advertisers will sometimes attempt to drive up their competitors' marketing costs by clicking on their ads. Click fraud can be committed through an automated script or programme. 

Computer hacking

Computer hackers use their advanced technological skills to break into computers and computer networks. People who engage in computer hacking activities are often called hackers. Fraudsters will break into a computer or computer network to steal sensitive information that they can use to commit fraud.

Corporate services fraud

Corporate service fraud occurs when fraud is committed against any company by its employers or service providers. For example, lawyers, accountants and surveyors.

Corporate services frauds include such things as:

  • Procurement fraud
  • Travel and subsistence fraud
  • False accounting
  • Exploiting assets and information
  • Payment fraud
  • Personnel management fraudand Receipt fraud

Credit and debit card fraud

Personal information stolen from a credit card, or theft of the actual card, can be used to commit fraud. Those who commit credit card fraud can use the information to buy goods in your name or obtain funds from an account. Card fraud also includes 'card not present' fraud which includes use of the card either online, over the phone or by mail order. To lower the risk of being targeted by credit card fraudsters, always make sure that your cards and financial details are safe.

Action Fraud have more information and tips on protecting yourself against card fraud on their website.

Domain name scams

Domain name scams occur when a fraudster offers a business first refusal on a domain name, saying that another company is interested in it or about to buy it. The fraudster will phone or email a company usually to see whether they would like to buy the domain name. They will often mention that they have other buyers interested and pressurise the company into making a quick decision. The fraudster will then charge an excessive fee for a domain name when no third party ever existed. Another form of domain name scams is when you receive a domain renewal notice. This happens when a fraudster sends a bogus letter mentioning that a domain name is up for renewal. The fraudster will then charge an excessive amount for this renewal.

Doorstep electricity meter credit scams

More commonly known as electricity fraud, doorstep electricity meter credit scams involve fraudsters offering cut-price energy to those with pre-payment electricity meters. Residents will be approached door-to-door with the offer of cheap electricity meter top-ups, such as £50 worth of electricity for only £25. However, energy suppliers can check their records to find they’ve not received the supposed payment and the customer eventually ends up paying twice. Fraudsters involved in doorstep electricity meter credit scams are believed to have links to serious and organised crime.

Door-to-door sales fraud

Door-to-door sales fraud involves fraudsters approaching you at your home. Be aware that there are legitimate businesses that approach potential customers door-to-door, but there are also fraudsters who use this method to target victims.

Door-to-door sales fraud can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Fraudulent charity collections
  • Bogus consumer surveys
  • Substandard or overpriced home renovations or maintenance services
  • Pressurised or forced selling
  • Misleading contracts

These types of fraud all involve fraudsters trying to sell products or services which are either extremely poor quality or are never received by the customer.

Employee fraud

Employee fraud is when fraud is committed against an organisation or company they are working for. Some members of staff may act dishonestly, wrongfully fail to disclose information, or abuse their position of trust for personal gain. Staff can have access to personal data of other employees, including payroll data, as well as information about customers. This type of fraud can be linked to serious organised criminal networks or terrorist financing and includes theft of cash or property within the organisation. Some organised criminals will place individuals in an organisation for the sole intention of committing fraud. Popular targets are IT departments, call centres and warehouses. You may wish to consider accessing the CIFAS National Fraud Database, which employers can use to file data about staff fraud cases and access staff fraud records filed by other CIFAS members.

Employment fraud

Also known as recruitment scams, employment fraud is when fraudsters claim to be an employer or a representative from a recruitment agency and hire someone for a job that doesn’t exist. Fraudsters use internet job sites to obtain CVs and personal details of people they can contact with a job offer. On occasion, fraudsters will ask the victim to complete a questionnaire or take part in a telephone interview before being told that the job is theirs. After stating they’ve been successful in their job application, fraudsters contact them to make supposedly necessary arrangements. Often the ‘job’ that the applicant has been offered is based abroad, so arrangements for visas, travel and accommodation are discussed.

Victims are referred to an agency who, for a fee, can help with these arrangements. The fraudulent agency then try to obtain as much money as possible from the victim without making any of the arrangements the person has paid for. For example, they may initially charge a deposit for accommodation, before charging a fee for visa administration.

Energy fraud

Usually committed by criminals masquerading as existing or fake energy companies, energy fraudsters con residents or companies into paying bogus fees or to gain permission to tamper with their meters. Sometimes they will sell a product or service that doesn’t really exist. Energy fraud sees criminals hiding behind a hijacked brand name and using their reputation and relationship with customers to lull them into a false sense of security to part with their money. Like most fraud, criminals committing energy fraud take advantage of vulnerable people and trick them into making a bad decision.