Fraud is widespread, and the effects can be devastating for victims' finances and their wellbeing.
But you don't have to live your life in fear.
Knowledge is power, so your first step is to be aware of the different types of fraud - click here to read about the five scams to looks out for in 2021.
And once you know what to look for, you can learn how to avoid falling victim yourself.
How to outsmart the scammers
There are many different types of fraud, aimed at many different types of victim, but one key way to stay safe is always the same.
Trust your instincts and think twice before you do anything. If something doesn't feel right, whether that's a text about a parcel you're not expecting or an investment offering double the returns of your pension, it may well be bogus.
And you have nothing to lose by taking the time to check it out before you do anything.
If you receive an unexpected call from the bank, or HMRC, or your insurance company put the phone down and call back on the number listed on the official website.
If you're contacted out of the blue by a "pension adviser" check their details with the Financial Conduct Authority.
Does an opportunity seem too good to be true, or are you being put under pressure to act quickly? Are you being told to keep something secret?
All of these are signs of potential fraud and should ring alarm bells.
Genuine callers will not mind you taking time to make your own checks, so always be suspicious of someone who does.
Do your research and check trusted online resources. Scammers can build a convincing website for a fake investment, so look up independent reviews. Also be suspicious of a website with lots of grammar and spelling errors, links that do not work, and no physical address in the contact details.
Speak to family and friends before you do anything.
It is impossible to know every detail of every potential fraud, and the criminals' tactics are always changing.
But if you follow your instincts, and make a habit of always taking your time to stop and think before you proceed, you can minimise your chances of falling victim to fraudsters.
- Trust your gut
- Stop and think
- Do your research
For the latest updates visit www.tsb.co.uk/fraud-prevention-centre/