Avoiding Scams

A scam is fraudulent activity that is intended to take money or other possessions from an unsuspecting person.


Scams appear to be becoming more frequent and sophisticated making it easier for anyone to be targeted and to fall victim to the crime, regardless of how cautious they are.


This webpage is intended to help you identify a scam and think about what to do if you are affected by fraudulent activity.


Try to be vigilant and if there is any doubt, don’t proceed without further investigation.



Spotting a Scam


As above, it can be very difficult to identify a scam, particularly with a lot of consumer activity taking place on online platforms.


However, there can be certain red flags that we would encourage you to look out for. These include:


  • If you are contacted by an unsolicited stranger.
  • If you are contacted by a number that claims to be that of a company, but the number is not the same as that they have listed online.
  • If you receive contact from someone who claims to be a friend or relative, but who is making this contact with you on an unfamiliar number.
  • If someone asks for personal information, bank details, or your PIN.
  • If you are asked to transfer money.
  • Are they asking you to pay by a ‘nonstandard method’, e.g. via iTunes or vouchers.
  • If you are online, there should be a padlock symbol on the search bar to the website. The absence of a padlock could indicate an unsafe site.
  • If a product, property or scheme seems too good to be true.



Protecting Yourself Online


As above, sometimes a fraudulent website can be identified through the absence of a padlock on the search bar. However, this cannot be reliable 100% of the time. Further to the padlock symbol, you can check a company’s details on GOV.UK.


Social Media is heavily populated with advertisements for products across the world. If you do see something you like, be careful to check the validity of the website before checking out your basket. Importantly, have other customers received their order; does the company definitely exist; do they have a postal address?


If you are buying something online from a website or a brand that you haven’t used before, it is sensible to check the reviews and comments. Branch out from the website itself and google the company so that you can be assured that the comments are likely to be credible.


If you are entering a competition to win an extravagant prize free of charge, do so cautiously. Sometimes, this is an opportunity for scammers to access your personal contact details, or to quickly share a link to their scam with your friends and family. Think to yourself, is the prize realistic; are you being asked to take part in reasonable activity; what information have they sought from me? If you are unsure, try to independently search the competition to see if anyone else has flagged any suspicious activity, or can verify it’s validity.


Don’t believe everything you read in an email. If you have been sent an email that you weren’t expecting, and/or it looks suspicious, don’t click on any hyperlinks within. Sometimes, scam artists may send emails containing viruses to their victims, with a view to accessing information on your device, and/or causing technical difficulties for the user.



Receiving Digital Correspondence


Increasingly, scam artists may try to make contact with you via social media, Whatsapp, instant messaging or via a telephone call.


Often, these conversations can be based on assumptions, or misinformation with a view to eliciting a conversation with you. For example, you may be told:


  • We heard you’ve been in a car accident;
  • We heard that you are currently in significant debt;
  • I am your mum/dad/parent/brother/sister/sibling/daughter/son/child and I have lost my phone.


If you can recognise this information as false in the first instance, we would advise you to suspend the conversation with immediate effect. This could include hanging up the call, not responding to an instant message, and/or blocking the contact number.


If you feel a caller may be credible, we would strongly advise you to avoid giving away any personal information until you are confident. Scammers can often use the conversation to try and obtain personal information from you. For example, they have been known to use games or quizzes to obtain information such as your mother’s maiden name or the name of your Primary School, or even your bank details. These details are often used as security questions to confirm your ID.


You cannot be too careful; sometimes a scam may appear to be from a reputable source. For example, contact from a bank, the postal service, or from a service provider. Before providing any personal details, or paying any money, we would encourage you to check the correspondence by proactively contacting your bank/postal service/service provider directly.




Housing Scams


We are aware of numerous scams that specifically affect individuals that are seeking accommodation in the UK.


This can include:


  • Advertising other peoples’ properties;
  • Advertising properties that do not exist;
  • Advertising properties that are not available for rental.


These scams are difficult to recognise in the first instance, and can appear both on social media marketplaces, as well as other, more reliable websites.


Ultimately, these scam artists are attempting to obtain your personal information, bank information and payment for the property. Upon receipt of the desired information and payment, they are likely to disappear, making them uncontactable for a refund or remedial action.


When looking for a new property we would always recommend the following:


  • Check that the property is registered with Rent Smart Wales.
  • Check that the landlord is licensed with Rent Smart Wales.  
  • View the property in person. Scam artist landlords will happily send you images or even videos of “the property” but without seeing it in person you cannot guarantee that the property is available for rental or exists in the capacity that you have been showed.
  • Do not transfer any funds. Pay the landlord or agent in person once you have actioned the above. The landlord should offer you a tenancy contract. 



International Travel


We are aware of some students being contacted by scam artists who are seeking payment. They may call you and ask you to prove that you have sufficient funds in your account. They may ask you to prove this by transferring the money to a different account, and they may assure you that this money will be returned to you. However, often they will not return the funds to you and may disappear making them nearly impossible to pursue.


If you receive contact about transferring your money to a different account do not do it. Contact your bank or building society to enquire about the validity of this request before moving any money.



Extra Safety Measures


  • You can find out about current scams by signing up to the Trading Standards email alert. Trading Standards are able to investigate scams and can sometimes take court action against them.
  • You can check if your data has been shared by using sites such as haveibeenpwned. This website allows you to quickly assess if you may have been put at risk due to an online account of yours having been compromised or "pwned" in a data breach.
  • Don’t throw out correspondence which has your personal data on it as it could be used to clone your identity. Where possible shred the documents or use a blotting tool to obscure any sensitive data.
  • Where possible, when making a purchase, pay with a debit or credit card. Increasingly, debit and credit card payments offer extra protection. For example, your bank may require you to authorise a payment on your banking app prior to releasing the funds.
  • Avoid paying for online purchases by bank transfer. However, we would encourage you to ensure your online banking mobile apps are kept up to date. Increasingly, banks are trying to precaution ahead of transferring money from your account, to help you avoid being taken victim to a scam. Take any notifications of this nature seriously.



Stolen Information


If you think that your password has been stolen, or that you have disclosed enough information to make your password cipherable, change your password as soon as possible.


If you have used the same password on other accounts, it would be safest to change it there too.


Try and create a strong password using a mixture of upper- and lower-case letters and special characters (@!?&). Although it is tempting, avoid keeping a written record of your passwords if you can help it. This is to remove the risk of your passwords being located by others.


If you feel that you have also disclosed the answers to your personal information/questions, then you may want to contact the appropriate services to change this information to.


Keep an eye on your bank account(s) and make sure that you are aware of all the transactions coming in and out of your account. If you recognise anything unusual, contact your bank immediately.


If you have lost your card or have reason to believe your card has been stolen, contact your bank to cancel your cards. This will prevent the scam artist from being able to access the money in your account through the cards.




If you Have Been Scammed:


  • Mitigation

    Contact your bank or credit card company as soon as possible. The sooner that you report any scam or fraud, the sooner your account will be protected.

    The bank may cancel your card and issue with a new one which will take a few days to arrive.

    Check your statements regularly to check each debit and alert your bank to any fraudulent debits.

    Change any passwords that may have been stolen to a new combination. As above, you may want to change passwords to different sites/services as well as that which has been affected to safeguard your own interests.

    Keep any evidence of the correspondence with the scammer safe. Make a note of any contact number or email address that may have contacted you and take a picture or screen capture of the scam if you can. This will help you with your reporting, but also may help others recognise the same scam.

    Block any email address or numbers that may have been used as part of the scam.
  • Report

    If the scammer is in your area or you have transferred money to a scammer in the last 24 hours, call 101.

    You can report the scam to Trading Standards. Trading Standards are a national organisation who are responsible for combatting rogue traders and tackling internet scams.

    You can report the scam to Action Fraud. Action Fraud is a national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. You can report cybercrime to Action Fraud any time of the day or night using their online reporting tool.

    If you have fallen victim to a housing scam, you may wish to report the rogue landlord to Rent Smart Wales

    You can seek further advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
  • Share

    Speak to your friends, relatives and colleagues to make them aware that you have been scammed. We appreciate this may not be something that you want to do, but it may be helpful should the scam artist try and contact them as you, or repeat the scam on others.

    You may wish to post a review of the website, company, or individual on google to spread the word to others that this is a scam.

    If an advert for the 'product', 'property', or 'scheme' is being shared by a host website, you could contact the host website to make them aware of the scam.

    You may wish to post on social media to share information about the scam and how the artist attempted to illicit money or information from you.



Other Considerations


  • If you have been the victim of a crime, you may want to contact the University’s Disclosure Response Team. They may be able to provide support with managing your safety if this is an immediate concern; provide practical support with housing, financial and academic needs with specific information and signpost you to specialist agencies.
  • If you are in a position of financial hardship as a result of a scam, or you would like some financial advice to help you recover from the scam, we would strongly advise you to speak to the University’s Advice and Money Service.
  • Often, being the victim of a crime can have a detrimental effect on an individual's mental wellbeing. If this is the case for you, you may wish to access support from the University’s Counselling and Wellbeing Service.




029 2078 1410