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Criminals net billions of pounds every year with scams that are often targeted at elderly and vulnerable members of our community.

Scams can come in many shapes and forms and fraudsters are always looking for new ways to fool their victims. Follow the information below to make sure you are safe against scams.

Unfortunately during the current Coronavirus outbreak some people are trying to take advantage of others whilst they are vulnerable.  See Current frauds and scams in County Durham for further information.

Be aware

Scams are designed to cheat you out of your money and once you've responded to a scam you're much more likely to be the target of further cons. Types of scams are continually changing. Find details of the latest frauds on the Action Fraud website.

Be cautious and look out for family and friends who may be targeted.

Common scams


This can include fake prize draws, lotteries, clairvoyants, and catalogues for poor quality goods. They are often personally addressed, and imply that you have won.


  • You can't win money or a prize if you haven't entered a competition or lottery.
  • Genuine competitions will not ask you to pay a fee to collect your winnings.
  • Don't send money or banking details to someone you don't know or trust.


This can include fake council tax refunds, bank fraud, computer repairs and investment scams. Telephone scams are sometimes carried out by text.


  • If you're unsure if a call is genuine, hang up, wait five minutes and call the company back.
  • The bank will never call you to ask for your PIN or password.
  • Always be suspicious if you're contacted out of the blue.


This can include emails with links to bogus websites, forms asking for personal information or financial details and subscription traps.


  • Don't enter credit/debit card details for 'free' samples - you could be locked in to an ongoing contract.
  • Check the senders email address to make sure it is genuine.
  • Don't reply to the email. This could cause a virus on your device.


This can include event ticket scams, pets for sale on social media, adverts for bogus goods, fake CV writing scams and copycat websites.


  • Always research independent feedback on the seller and their products.
  • Only buy tickets from the official sellers and pets from licensed breeders.
  • Look out for company logos and branding and make sure web addresses are spelt correctly.


This can include bogus fish sellers, roofing, block paving, gardening and locksmith scams. Cold callers often offer goods for sale or offer to provide a service for a fee.


  • Don't be rushed, if genuine they will be prepared to return when a friend or family member can be present.
  • Think about whether you want or need anything the visitor is offering.
  • If in doubt, don't answer the door to cold callers.

All scams have one thing in common- to gain your trust and obtain private information and money.

What you can do

Cut down on nuisance phone calls by registering with the Telephone Preference Service and unwanted mail through the Mail Preference Service.

Call blocking devices, such as True Call and CPR Call Blocker, are available on the market and can be found using a search engine. Be wary of any companies that contact you unexpectedly offering this service.

Never send money to someone who contacts you out of the blue asking for payment from you using a money transfer service. These are often used by fraudsters as many are untraceable.

You can also learn more about the different types of scams and how to spot and support a victim by completing the Friends Against Scams Online Learning course. Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards initiative which aims to inspire action, highlight the scale of the problem, change the perceptions of why people fall victim to scams and make scams a local, regional and national topic. With increased knowledge and awareness, people can make scams part of everyday conversation with their family, friends and neighbours, which will enable them to protect themselves and others from scams.

Further information

To check if something might be a scam, use the Online Scams Helper on the Citizens Advice website which also contains further information on how to spot, avoid and report scams.

Contact us
Community Protection
03000 261 016
Our address is:
  • Durham County Council
  • Community Protection
  • PO Box 617
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 9HZ