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How to spot a scam

Published on 28 June 2024 10:21 AM

With the world becoming more digital, scams are on the rise. Below are some examples of the latest scams and some useful tips on how to spot them and protect yourself.


Direct debit refund scam warning

We are aware of a scam circulating on social media regarding victims of fraud in Oxford.

Whilst we are not aware of any customers of Oxford City Council that have been victims, we wanted to warn residents to help keep them safe.

Adverts on social media are offering free, “risk-free” money by claiming back refunds of direct debits via your bank. This includes rent and Council Tax payments- but could also apply to any direct debit. Some victims have been contacted in person or via direct message.

This could put your home at risk, or you could end up being taken to court.

Three top tips:

  • Keep your money safe by never sharing your bank account information with anyone
  • Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Report the scam to Action Fraud or call them on 0300 123 2040.

Contact the Oxford City Council Counter-Fraud Team to report any suspicions of fraud connected to Council services including Council owned housing.

Digital switchover - potential scams

The transition from analogue to digital technologies has created new opportunities for criminals to target residents. For example, criminals may use phishing emails, fake websites, or phone calls to trick residents into providing personal information, such as bank account details or passwords.

This information can then be used to steal money or commit identity theft. There is also the potential for increases in criminality through rogue traders selling equipment, charging for unnecessary work, or trying to pressurise members of the community into new contracts related to the digital switchover.

Around 1.8 million people use healthcare devices nationally, and we are concerned that reports of scams will increase as the 2025 switchover date approaches.

As with all scams, we advise you to contact your bank to stop any payments and discuss this with family or friends. Report any scams or fraudulent activity to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via their website.

QR code scams in car parks

Scammers have been sticking fake QR codes on ticket machines in car parks.

Ticket machines often contain scannable QR codes, which enable drivers to download the car park operator's app to pay for their parking. However, scammers are sticking fake codes to machines in an attempt to trick victims.

If you scan a fake code, you will be taken to a website where you will be asked to enter your payment details. If you enter your details, you may be signed up for a recurring monthly payment.

Always check to see if there is not another QR code underneath it.

TV licence scam

If you receive a text message regarding your TV licence please do not click on any links provided including to set up a direct debit.

TV licencing will never send you a text saying you are entitled to a refund, ask you to set up a payment plan, or ask you to provide your bank details, they will never ask you for your personal information and they will not send you a text saying they can offer you a cheaper TV licence.

If in doubt call TV licencing from the telephone number on your Paper TV licence.

Mobile phone scams

Be aware if you receive a text apparently from your son/daughter/grandchild stating for example

  • "I have borrowed a phone as I have lost my phone/its been stolen. Can you please send me money as I cannot get home or I cannot buy food/pay rent. Could you please help me by transferring the money to this account?" giving a new sort code and account number
  • “Hi mum I am texting off a friend's phone I have smashed mine and this phone is about to die, can you please WhatsApp my new number straightaway?"
  • “Mum/Dad, I have dropped my mobile phone down the loo/toilet, please can you transfer money to this account? I have no access to my bank account and I urgently need money to pay bills/or go shopping for food"

These messages are often used by scammers to persuade friends and family to urgently send money to new bank accounts.



You can also report and get advice about fraud or cyber crime by calling 0300 123 2040. If someone calls you and claims they’re from your bank, asks you to transfer money or make a payment, or wants to talk about your finances but it doesn’t seem quite right, you can contact your bank by calling 159. Do this from another phone in case the scammer has stayed on the line. If you are in danger or have been a victim of a crime please call 999.