Online scams to watch out for

Laptop And Mobile Phone

Scams and cybercrime, including fake websites and text messages, are becoming more common, deceiving people into parting with their money.

Scammers today are persistent and sophisticated. They use online means like emails and social media to trick people into giving them sensitive information. They might pose as someone you know, your bank or even a compensation recovery firm.

Below, we'll go over some of the latest scams and how to spot them — so you can stay one step ahead of fraudsters.


What are the latest online scams?

Scams are constantly evolving. Rapidly changing technology forces scammers to change their tactics. That’s why it’s important to stay updated with the latest scams.

Here, we list some of the recent online scams.


Cost of living scams

The cost of living crisis provides an opportunity for scammers to take advantage. They’ll often use current issues to scam people in order to benefit financially.

Some scams to look out for:

  • Energy Bills Support Scheme

    Scammers are taking advantage of the government's Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS), which provides every household with a £400 discount on their energy bills. Fraudsters pose as energy providers or claim to be from the government and may call, email or text you. They'll ask you to confirm your information saying they need this to give you your EBSS discount. This is a scam and you should never give them your personal information. For most, you don't need to do anything to claim your EBSS because your energy provider will automatically apply the discount to your bills or send you vouchers if you have a prepayment metre. Find out more information about the EBSS on GOV.UK.
  • Council tax rebates

    This scam involves the £150 council tax rebate, which is processed automatically for those who pay their council tax via direct debit. Anyone who pays by other methods has to claim the rebate. Some people have reported receiving cold calls from fraudsters asking for their bank details to process the payment. Councils will not call you asking for your bank details. Never give sensitive information when cold called, including your bank details or PIN.


WhatsApp message scam


Cybercriminals are taking to WhatsApp to pose as friends or family members to dupe people into giving them money. Scammers might use stolen photos to add credibility to their impersonation, making them more difficult to detect.

Stay vigilant when someone contacts you out of the blue and requests money or personal information like your bank account details — it could be a WhatsApp scam.

STOP. THINK. CALL. is a campaign by WhatsApp, Citizens Advice and the National Trading Standards' Friends Against Scams that aims to help users avoid message-based scams.

They recommend following these three steps when users receive unusual messages:

  • Stop – take a moment to stop and think before you share any personal information.
  • Think – does the message seem authentic? Are you being asked to give money or sensitive information? Scammers will often pose as someone you know, but be wary if something doesn’t feel right.
  • Call – verify the message by phoning your friend or family member or ask them to send a voice note.


Bank card refund scam

The recent bank card refund scam is a social media con in which fraudsters claim that account holders can get a refund on card transactions.

Fraudsters are creating convincing screenshots of fake bank deposits, offering to claim the refunds directly from someone’s bank. Responding users will be asked for their internet banking information, which the scammers will then use to set up a new mobile device on the individual’s account.

It’s important to be alert whenever someone is asking for your bank details.


Online shopping scams

Internet anonymity helps scammers to carry out online shopping fraud. But there are ways to protect yourself.

If you're buying something from a company or person you don't know, do your research first by checking the seller’s review history. Be wary of recently created accounts with a lot of positive feedback. They could be fake reviews.Type in the address and double-check the spelling to ensure that the site you're buying from is genuine and not a copycat. Typically, fake addresses will have one or two letters that differ from the real site.

It’s important to avoid fake websites or advertisements that appear to be from legitimate retailers. When something seems too good to be true, it’s worth proceeding with caution.


Fake ‘missed parcel’ messages

Be wary of suspicious text messages or emails claiming to be from a courier.

This scam invites customers to click on a link to download a malicious tracking app containing spyware. Your banking details, passwords and other sensitive information become vulnerable.

Safely check for missed parcels by using official websites of delivery companies if you’re expecting a package. And, most importantly, never click on a link sent from an unknown number.



How to spot scams

While scammers have become more sophisticated, scams often come with warning signs.

Here's how to identify some common scams:

How to spot a scam email


Fraudulent emails (also known as phishing scams) are a type of cybercrime. These emails can look like they’re from a trusted source and are sometimes difficult to identify.

Follow these steps to spot a scam email:

  1. The sender – if the email comes from a different address than the apparent sender, it's likely a scam. For example, a sender pretending to be a retailer may send from a public domain, such as ‘’ or ‘’, or another domain instead of the retailer’s address. Make sure you check the actual email address and not their display name. It’s easy for scammers to set their names to fake, legitimiate-looking emails.
  2. Spelling and grammar – look out for typos or bad grammar in the contents of the email and the sender’s address. For example, a sender may use common spelling errors to deceive. Instead of they may use or
  3. Unsolicited emails – has this email arrived out of the blue? Were you expecting it? Contact the company directly to validate the email.
  4. Language – are you being forced to act quickly or provide sensitive information? Be alert for scammers who use emotion to get you to act.

Scam emails will often have links to hoax websites. Never click on links; instead, hover your mouse over the link to view the domain. You can then determine if the link is credible.

It’s also crucial that you don’t open an attachment. These might hold a virus and pose a threat to you and your personal information.

If there is a phone number included, do not click it or attempt to ring this number. Instead, look up their contact details on their trusted website and call through there to validate the email.


How to spot a scam text message

It's always wise to be on guard when you receive a text message out of the blue. Scammers trick people into revealing personal information, including bank account details. Scam messages often use urgency and emotion to prompt responses without giving you time to think.

If you’ve received a text from an unknown number and they claim to be a company or person you trust, call them on their official number. Never click on a link in a suspicious text message.


How to spot fake websites

There are several tell-tale signs of a fake website, including:

  • The domain – check the URL is spelt correctly.
  • A secure website – look for the padlock next to the URL that indicates that the site is secure and your information is encrypted.
  • Payment method – be cautious if you’re asked to pay via bank transfer.
  • Spelling and grammar – be alert for poor spelling and grammar.
  • Contact information – check whether there is contact information available, such as a telephone or address.
  • Business policies – look out for a privacy policy and a return policy that can indicate the business is credible.
  • Online reviews – explore the latest reviews for the business on trustworthy sites like Trustpilot.

If you are concerned about a company's credibility, use GOV.UK to determine whether they are who they claim to be.

How to spot telephone scams

Fraudsters might target you by telephone. Companies might pose as HMRC, your bank or even a third-party compensation recovery firm.

First, be aware of unsolicited calls. Fraudsters often put people under pressure to force them to act quickly.

Never share sensitive information over the phone. If in doubt, hang up and dial the company's official number.

At Shawbrook, we will never request sensitive or personal information, which includes PINs or your 16-digit account number. If you receive an unexpected call from us and you’re concerned the caller might be an imposter, hang up and contact us from a different phone.

For more information about our commitment to keeping you safe, take a look at our customer security policy.


How to report scams?

If you’ve experienced any online scam, it’s vital that you report it.

What you should do:

  • Facebook scams – report ads by clicking the three dots on the top right corner and selecting ‘report ad’ then ‘misleading or scam’.
  • Report phishing – forward malicious emails to UK via
  • Text or phone scams – report suspicious phone calls or text messages to the UK’s anti-scam service on 7726, a free service introduced by phone operators in 2014.
  • Suspicious websites – inform the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) of suspicious websites. Use the NCSC’s online form to submit your report.
  • If you’ve fallen victim to fraud – contact Action Fraud, the UK’s reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cybercrime.
  • If you believe somebody is pretending to be Shawbrook Bank – please get in touch with our customer services team.



Other articles you may be interested in...