Online fraud

What is online fraud?

Fraud is when someone tricks or deceives you to gain a dishonest advantage – usually money, goods, services or property.

Anyone is susceptible to fraud. Criminals are clever and well organised and are finding new ways to deceive people. When fraud is committed online, the people responsible may be thousands of miles away, which makes bringing offenders to justice difficult and sometimes impossible.

Although embarrassment or shame can be common reactions, you have no need to feel this way.

Even the most careful people can be caught out, and sometimes fraudsters only need the smallest piece of information, such as your address, email or phone number, to commit a crime. Some people blame themselves after falling victim to fraud, but you're not to blame – only the offender is responsible for this crime taking place.

Whenever you’re ready to access support, contact us.

Common scams

Fraudsters often adopt a fake identity to commit crimes. They might:

  • pretend to work for a well-known company or charity
  • persuade you to buy goods that are not for sale, don’t exist or are worthless
  • provide a service, often of poor quality (such as building work or resurfacing driveways) but charge you many times the price they quoted, often using threats to get payment
  • trick you into giving them money, even large amounts, possibly over a long period of time, with the promise of making you more money – for example, bogus lottery wins or inheritance scams where they might demand money from you in order to receive your fictitious prize or inheritance
  • persuade you to invest your pension in fake pension plans that have little value, are not suited to your long-term needs or are worthless.

Identify theft

Identity theft is when someone commits fraud by using your personal details to carry out a crime. This can include deceiving others to open bank accounts, or applying for loans or purchasing goods and services using your bank details and money. It can also extend to ‘borrowing’ your identity to hide debts or poor credit ratings and, in extreme cases, creating fake identity documents. This crime can be extremely damaging, as not only do you feel powerless to stop the crimes being committed, you may not even be aware that it’s happening until it is too late.

  • report the crime to Action Fraud;
  • report the incident to any relevant banks or credit card companies, so you can prevent any further fraud;
  • change your passwords to prevent any further accounts from being hacked; and
  • contact Victim Support – we can help you to cope and recover from the effects of cyber crime and online fraud.

If you’ve been affected by cyber crime or online fraud, we can:

  • provide emotional support, either over the phone or face to face;
  • help with filling out forms, cancelling credit/bank cards and reporting stolen documents;
  • deal with insurance companies for you;
  • keep you up to date with what is being done by Action Fraud and other agencies;
  • provide advice about online safety and security; and
  • signpost or refer you to other agencies and services that can also offer help.


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