Fraud is when someone tricks or deceives you to gain a dishonest advantage – usually money, goods, services or property. There are many words used to describe fraud, such as scam, con, swindle, extortion, sham, double-cross, hoax, cheat and hoodwink.

There are many different ‘types’ of fraud. Here are some of the most common:

Identity fraud: when someone uses your personal details fraudulently. They may then do things such as open new bank accounts or take out a loan in your name, or defraud other people.

Romance fraud: when you believe you’ve met a new partner through online dating, a dating app or via social media, and are in a genuine relationship. However, that person is a criminal using a fake profile and false identity to build a relationship with you. This is usually to get money or personal details, or for you to complete transactions on their behalf.

Sextortion: when criminals set up fake profiles online, often using stolen images and made up details about their identity. They then contact people and encourage them to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam or send images of themselves, unaware they’re being recorded. Criminals then use these images as a way of blackmailing people into sending them money, or else they will share the images with their friends, family or colleagues.

Authorised Push Payment (APP) or bank transfer fraud: this involves a scammer convincing someone to transfer money from their bank account to the scammers, for what they believe is a legitimate reason. A common example is posing as their bank, claiming they need to transfer money to a ‘safe account’.

Social media fraud:
when criminals use social media as a platform to target and deceive individuals, such as with fake advertisements, websites or opportunities.

Investment and pension fraud
: these often involve being contacted by a scammer out of the blue, offering you a chance to invest in a product or a scheme, or to cash in your pension.

Phishing and smishing: attempts by scammers to get people to reveal personal information about themselves via email or text message. They also attempt this by phone or voice messages, known as vishing.

My Support Space is our online resource that contains up to date information about different types of fraud, how they might affect you and the ways you can access help. It includes interactives guides and videos that can help you to understand what’s happened or what to do next.

We currently have guides on romance fraud, investment fraud, phishing and smishing, social media fraud, identity theft, Authorised Push Payment (bank transfer) fraud, plus guides that focus on your wellbeing and emotions. It’s free to use and you can set up an account to keep track of the guides you’re working through.

The simple answer is that anyone can experience fraud. Every day, criminals invent new ways of taking money from innocent people. These criminals are clever and well organised, and they will try to trick and mislead you using very convincing tactics.

When fraud is committed online, the people responsible may be thousands of miles away, which makes bringing offenders to justice very difficult, and sometimes impossible.

If you think you’ve experienced fraud, you can contact us for support.

After experiencing fraud you may feel a range of emotions, such as embarrassment, shame, sadness or even anger.

Although these are common reactions, it’s important to remember that only the fraudster is responsible for this crime taking place. Many scams are difficult to identify, or very complex and play on your emotions. Some fraudsters only need the smallest amount of your information, such as your address or phone number, to commit a crime.

Steps to take to protect yourself from fraud:

Steps to take if you’ve experienced fraud:

  • Report it to your bank.
  • Report to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre.
  • If the scam relates to an investment opportunity, speak with the Financial Conduct Authority.
  • If the scam took place online, report it to the social media site.
  • Change passwords on your accounts and check your credit score.
  • Watch out for companies who contact you, offering you help with getting your money back.

In you feel at significant risk of harm, you should call 999.

Please note: Victim Support cannot compensate you for your financial loss, but we’re here to help you get your life back on track. However you’re feeling or whenever the crime took place, you can talk to us in complete confidence.

If someone you know has experienced fraud, it may be difficult to know what to say or do to help. Fraud is a crime and should be taken seriously. Having support from friends and family can be really useful for people who have experienced it.

For more information and guidance on how to support someone, you can use our Supporter Guide which is available on My Support Space, our digital support resource.

When you report a crime to the police, they should automatically ask if you’d like help from an organisation like Victim Support. But anyone affected by crime can contact us directly – you don’t need to talk to the police to get our help.

You can get in touch by:

You can also create a free account on My Support Space – an online resource containing interactive guides (including guides on fraud) to help you manage the impact crime has had on you.

If English is not your first language and you’d like support, call our Supportline and let us know which language you speak. We will call you back with an interpreter as soon as possible. We also welcome calls via Relay UK and SignLive (BSL).

Families and friends affected by crime can also contact us for support and information. If you’re a child or young person under 18 and are looking for support, visit our children and young people website for information and tips.