Common Scams in the United Kingdom to watch out for in 2023

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Common Scams in the United Kingdom to watch out for in 2023

Everyone is a potential victim of some of the common scams in the United Kingdom, and no one is immune. This is why cybersecurity awareness is vital. Cyberspace is growing, and malicious actors are increasing in presence, too.

According to United Kingdom (UK) Finance data, criminals stole a total of £580 million through scams in the first half of 2023 alone. As the UK continues to grapple with its cost-of-living crisis, scammers are taking advantage of people’s increased financial vulnerability.

Here is a list of some of the most common scams in the United Kingdom to watch out for in 2023 and how you can avoid them:

Facebook Marketplace: Take care when shopping on online marketplaces like Facebook. There has been a rise in people getting scammed when shopping for items like gadgets, cars, furniture, and so on.

According to statistics, 65,000 Britons lost £37.5 million through the Facebook marketplace in 2022, and hundreds of users lost money to scam advertisements on the platform daily. Facebook Marketplace is a good platform for buying affordable items. But it is also the home of fraudulent activities.

Buying and selling on the Facebook marketplace is straightforward, but you should not fall for one of these scams.

  • Shipping Insurance scam
  • Overpayment refund scams
  • Sellers and buyers who prefer to take the transaction elsewhere
  • Sellers requesting payment in advance
  • Gift card scam
  • Fake house and apartment rental listings
  • Car deposit and vehicle purchase protection scams
  • Plain old fake goods
  • Stolen or faulty goods ( for example, smartphones, laptops, and bikes because of their high demand)
  • Identity fraud and personal information harvesting

How do I avoid Facebook Marketplace scams?

  • It is best to only entertain offers from local buyers willing to meet in person. Ensure you confirm all items and are very satisfied before paying physically.
  • Avoid going to secluded areas to view items alone. You can suggest meeting in an open location to get items.
  • Don’t click suspicious links, attachments, or images when you receive a message from someone you think may be a potential buyer.
  • Install good antivirus software on all your devices to help make sure you are stopped from clicking on any malicious links, attachments, or images that come with malware.
  • Use identity theft protection.
  • Report Facebook marketplace scams to Facebook via the Help Center pages dedicated to recognizing scams.

His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) call scam: Don’t fall for this. HMRC would not call you, let alone inform you of a problem with your HMRC tax account, and ask you to press 1 to speak with someone. They will also not contact you to threaten you for any reason. You should only be worried if HMRC mails that brown envelope to your house.

HMRC warned that self-assessment taxpayers must look for scam texts, emails, and phone calls from fraudsters. With around 12 million people expected to submit a self-assessment tax return for the 2022–2023 tax year before the January 31, 2024, deadline, scammers will take advantage of taxpayers by impersonating HMRC.

According to HMRC, 130,000 reports about tax scams have been made in the past year, and 58,000 of those offering fake tax rebates have been reported.

How do I avoid HMRC call scams?

  • Download the HMRC app to keep up with your tax obligations and communications with HMRC.
  • Report any HMRC scam calls using the link here.
  • Check if the email received from HMRC is genuine, and if it looks fake, report it to HMRC at phishing@hrmc.gov.uk

Parcel and package delivery scam: If you have a habit of shopping online, you are no stranger to parcel and delivery scams. Every year, thousands of people in the UK are scammed by fraudulent email or text messages. Phishing scams, whether it’s a text message claiming you have missed a delivery and are required to pay a redelivery fee. According to Citizens Advice Research, parcel delivery scams were one of the most common scams in the United Kingdom in 2023, accounting for 49% of all the different types of scams.

In 2021, a report from Consumer Watchdog revealed that as many as 1.1 million people in the UK might have been caught up in a parcel delivery “brushing” scam. This occurs when bad actors send packages to publicly available names and addresses. If you receive a package or item you didn’t order, first confirm that it was not a gift sent to you and check with friends and family to see if they ordered the package. 15.05 billion parcel deliveries were completed worldwide in 2020, and fraudsters impersonate parcel delivery more than any other sector using marketing campaigns and text alerts. 

When you get a text message stating that you missed a delivery you were not expecting or “your parcel has been delivered,” please do not click on links you do not know about and don’t provide any information. The messages often contain a link that brings you to a scam website. In most cases, Evri, Royal Mail, DPD, DHL, etc., would drop you a card or a letter telling you to go to their closest office to pick up an item you missed from them.

How do you identify a parcel delivery scam text?

The United Kingdom is a hotspot for fake deliveries and parcel fraud. This type of scam now constitutes more than half of all reported text phishing or “smashing, attempts in the UK. Here are some hints to show that a delivery message is a scam.

  • The mobile number is unidentified, even if the company name is mentioned in the text
  • It has come from a long phone number or an unusual email address
  • The company in question usually contacts you via email or post
  • The message sounds urgent or calls for immediate action
  • There are misspellings or grammatical errors in the message
  • There is an unusual link included in the text
  • The order code does not match the one in your information email from the company
  • You haven’t ordered anything from that particular business

How do I avoid a parcel delivery scam?

  • Ignore any links in the text and contact the business
  • If you get one of these texts, report it to protect others
  • If you click the link and send money before you realize it is a scam, contact your bank and report it to them.
  • Report unsolicited packages or brushing scams.

National Insurance (NI) scam call:

You would likely get a call from someone saying your NI has been compromised and it’s being used to commit fraud, and then they usually proceed to ask for sensitive personal information. They would usually direct you to press “1” or “2” on your phone to continue. The victim is persuaded to give their personal information to receive a new NI number. We advise you to end the call because, in reality, the victim has been connected to a scammer who can now use their details to commit fraud.

How do I avoid National Insurance (NI) scam calls?

  • If you receive an unexpected phone call, text message, or email that asks for your personal or financial details, end the call.
  • If you have provided personal details to someone over the phone and believe this to be a scam, contact your bank or credit card company immediately.
  • Please report it to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Job-phishing emails: Criminals use social media, job websites, and phishing emails to advertise fake jobs. Job-phishing emails are crafted to gain access to personal or sensitive information. 

Job phishing attacks are currently on the rise. You would usually get calls or emails (phishing emails) saying you had a job. In most cases, they are jobs you didn’t apply for. They only got your details from job sites where you’ve uploaded your CV. It would help if you were watchful when they request money to secure a work visa, an application fee, a job fee, or sensitive information. There is another remote job scam, usually for virtual assistant roles. After offering you the job, they send you a fake check, instructing you to cash it to set up your workstation.

How do I identify a phishing email?

  • Dangerous file attachments
  • Weird generic greetings
  • Unsolicited
  • Spelling and grammatical errors in the subject, URL, message body, or attachment titles
  • Panic-inducing messages
  • Offers that are too good to be true
  • Misspelled domain name
  • Malicious links
  • Inconsistencies in email addresses, links, and domain names
  • Requests for login credentials, payment information, or other sensitive information

How do I avoid job-phishing emails?

  • Don’t interact, reply, or download the content if you are unsure of a job email. Search on the internet for a scam with the subject of the email, 
  • Research all potential employers to ensure they are genuine
  • Unsolicited emails with employment offers that seem too good to be true should be treated with suspicion.
  • Ensure you only have your city, e.g., London, or your postcode as your address on your CV. Not your full address, just in case your CV lands in the hands of scammers disguised as recruiters.
  • Take a test phishing email often to help you identify job scam emails.
  • Check if the job posting is on the organization’s official email.
  • Do not communicate with the sender through another platform.

Read MoreThe Risks of Public WiFi and How to Secure Yourself

This is a well-researched article on some of the most common scams in the United Kingdom. Kindly share with your friends and family so they don’t fall victim. Leave a comment below if you have any questions to ask.