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How to report a scam or fraud

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Scams and fraud are on the rise, and if you’re unlucky enough to be caught up in one, the best thing you can do to begin the recovery process is to report it. Here’s what to do.

What to do straight away

Before you report a scam or fraud, and you think you might have been scammed yourself, there are two things you need to do:

  1. Stop sending money straight away. If the payment has been set up as a Direct Debit, get in touch with your bank to stop this immediately.
  2. Beware of follow-up scams. Sometimes after you’ve initially been scammed you might get targeted again by a fraudster who says they can get your money back.
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Report dangerous scams and fraud to the police

For most scams, you would first go to Action Fraud If a scam is putting you or someone else in danger and it’s an emergency though, you need to call the police on 999.

You should also call the police if:

  • a fraud is in progress or occurred within the last 24 hours
  • you know the suspect and they live in the UK
  • the victim is vulnerable because of age, mental or physical impairment, or in need of care and support
  • you think the police need to preserve evidence or prevent loss, such as CCTV, or recover large amounts of money transferred from bank accounts before it can be transferred away.

Report scam emails and online fraud

Trying to con people using emails or websites is becoming popular. If you’ve found a website trying to do this, or have been caught up in a scam, here’s what to do:

  • If you got an email, you can contact the service provider that sent you the email, such as Yahoo! or Outlook. Some will often have a ‘Report phishing’ or ‘Report scam’ button. The email address can then be closed down.
  • If it’s a website or you’ve been caught in a scam, report it to Action Fraud who have an online reporting tool (Opens in a new window) that is quick and easy to use.
  • You can also report the fraud to companies that are advertising fraudulent services, such as when adverts appear on Google or Bing.
  • Sometimes fraudsters impersonate organisations, such as pretending emails or phone calls are from HMRC. You can contact the companies that are being impersonated as well.
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Financial service scams, including mortgages and insurance

Almost all financial services – services that deal with shares, credit, insurance, mortgages and soon on – should be authorised or regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. 

If you are targeted by an organisation trying to give you these kind of services, you can report them to the FCA for investigation (Opens in a new window)

Report pension scams

Pension scams are some of the most dangerous types of fraud because they’re targeting large sums of money, money that is people’s life savings.

  • If you’ve already agreed or signed something you’re now not sure about, get in touch with your pension provider straight away. They might be able to stop a transfer before it happens.
  • You can also report investment scams you’ve been the target of to the FCA using their reporting form
  • If you have lost money to a suspected investment fraud, you should report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use the Action Fraud online reporting tool
  • If you have doubts about what to do, ask the pensions specialists at MoneyHelper. Call us on  0800 011 3797 for free pensions advice and information.
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Report investment scams

Much like pension scams, these can be very scary for people as the sums of money involved are often very large.

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Report scams that use Royal Mail

You might also have received fraudulent papers in the post. There are a few steps you can take. You can:

  • forward the letters to Royal Mail with a covering letter explaining what’s happened to: Freepost Scam Mail, PO Box 797, Exeter EX1 9UN
  • send an email or call 0345 611 3413 explaining the fraud
  • contact The Mailing Preference Service (MPS) who will remove your name and address from mailing lists. You can call them on 0845 703 4599 or use the MPS website

Report scam phone calls

If you suspect you’re being targeted by a premium-rate telephone service scam:

  • you can make a complaint and report it to the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA), the UK regulator for phone bills, by calling them on 0300 303 0020, or by visiting the PSA website

Report online shopping scams and payment fraud

It can sometimes be difficult to work out if you’ve been the victim of a scam or not. But, if something goes wrong with an online purchase, here are the steps to take:

  • If you’ve been sent a defective item, or the wrong product, get in touch with the online seller you got it from.
  • If you don’t hear back, or you’re not happy with their response, you should contact your card provider, for example VISA or Mastercard.  
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  • If you don’t remember making a purchase and think it could be someone using your card for fraud, let your bank know straight away. They can then block the card so no more payments can go through. You’ll normally get your money refunded back from your card company if your card details are used online without your permission for fraud. 
  • If you think you’ve been targeted by a scam you can also report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use Action Fraud's online reporting tool
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