There are many types of fraud and many terms used to talk about it. We try to avoid these terms as much as possible to keep things simple. Still, it’s also good to know what they mean when they come up in your day-to-day lives. We’ve put together a list of common terms to help you.


  • Understand fraud terms and definitions
  • Understand some of the different types of scams

Read time:

10 mins

Chapter 1

A-Z list

Read time:

10 mins

How to use our list

Our list of terms is in alphabetical order. Just pick a letter to see the terms starting with that letter.


Select each letter to find out more

  • Cashpoint scams

    There are many cashpoint scams to look out for - like loitering groups and people tampering with cashpoints. For example, by using pinhole cameras, fake fronts and blocked card slots, fraudsters can record your card details and steal your money.


    Charity scam

    With this type of fraud, fraudsters prey on your sympathy by asking you to donate to their charity. But, it won't be genuine. They've just made it up to scam you out of your money.


    Cheque scams

    This type of scam is quite rare now. It takes place when someone gives you a cheque they know you can't cash. They tamper with the cheque so the bank will reject it. Fraudsters also steal cheques or change details on them to try to take more money.


    Credit/debit card scams

    This type of scam involves the stealing of your details from your card or the theft of the card itself. The fraudster will then use it to buy goods or make financial investments in your name.

  • Fake job scams

    Fraudsters pose as job or casting agencies, but they're fake. There's a promise to boost your career or get you a job for a fee, but they don't deliver results. They may also try to steal your personal details.

  • Government agency scams

    You may get a call, email or text that looks like it's from a government department or other well-known company. A message could say you need to pay a fine for breaking the law. An email might ask you to enter your banking details for a tax rebate or register to comply with the law.

    For example, the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) lets you get state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. The NHS offers these cards, and they are free. The NHS will never charge you a fee or ask for bank details when you apply for a card.

  • Identity theft

    Fraudsters steal your personal details and pretend to be you, to commit fraud.


    Internet domain name scams

    This type of scam happens when fraudsters try to trick an organisation into buying, selling, listing or converting a domain name. They'll get you to pay but won't do any work.


    Investment scams

    With this type of fraud, it will often start with a cold call. The fraudster will offer you the chance to invest with the promise of a good return. Over time, it will become clear that the investment was either worthless or didn't exist.


    Invoice/mandate scams

    Fraudsters can copy a genuine email or hack into an account to send new payment details. If somebody you deal with changes their payment details, call them back to double check. Use a number you trust, not one from an invoice.

  • Loan scams

    Loan scams cover a whole branch of scams you should watch out for. They often involve offering you a fake loan with large fees or pretending to be a genuine loan company. You may reply to an advert for a fast loan and the application will be successful despite your credit history. Before you get your loan, they may ask you to pay an upfront fee to cover insurance for the loan.

  • Malware

    This is software that attacks your device. You'll often find it hidden online in tempting links, attachments and downloads. It is used to steal your details or money.



    These are fake adverts on genuine sites that include malware.

  • Pension scams

    Fraudsters will usually contact people out of the blue pretending to be a pension company. They'll try to convince you to transfer your pension to them. To avoid this, you should watch out for offers of free pension reviews, offers to release funds, and high-pressure sales tactics.



    Fraudsters use programs to take you from the website you were trying to visit to their own sites. The site often looks like the one you were trying to visit. But it's a fake one used to steal your details or attack your device.



    This is a scam that uses an email to try to trick you into giving away details or moving money.


    Purchase scams

    Purchase scams are when fraudsters convince you to purchase goods or services that are either not what you expect or do not exist at all. These scams commonly happen through online shopping sites or auction sites like eBay or Gumtree.

  • Scareware

    This often comes in the form of on-screen warnings of viruses that aren't real. The fraudster will try to scare you into selecting their pop-up or link to buy software that will protect you.



    This is a scam that uses text messages to trick you into giving away your details or moving money.


    Social engineering

    This is how fraudsters try to talk you into giving away money, banking details or performing actions designed to steal your details.


    Social media footprint

    If you share personal information online, it leaves a trail - a footprint - that other people can find. Fraudsters try to get details from your footprint to help them with scams.


    Spoof or spoofing

    Fraudsters can copy - spoof - a phone number, text message or email, so it seems genuine.



    A type of software used to track your actions and collect your details without you knowing. Fraudsters often use keystroke loggers, which track the buttons you press on your keyboard. This means they can capture your passwords and personal details as you type them.

  • Ticket scams

    The chance to buy cheap tickets might sound great. But there are lots of fake tickets sites that may ask you to pay by direct bank transfer. These are hard to trace.



    This is a type of malware that hides in a normal file. They usually spread using social engineering and can appear as a genuine link or attachment. Trojans can give attackers access to your personal information.

  • Vacation/holiday scams

    These types of scams disguise themselves as great deals online. They can look like a real website or message. But fraudsters can pretend to be real travel companies or agents. You get links that lead to fake websites, put a virus on your device or ask you to pay by direct bank or wire transfer.



    A type of malware. A computer virus can spread from a file or document to infect your device. Once in place, fraudsters use them to steal your money and details.



    This is a scam call. Fraudsters can phone you and pretend to be us or other well-known companies. They may ask you to make a payment, transfer money to a safe account or for banking details.


    What to do if you clicked something suspicious

    The first thing to do is report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at If you're in Scotland, you can contact Police Scotland on 101. Once you've done that, you should try to take steps to stop further damage. If the fraud affects your bank account, you should contact your bank immediately.


Bank of Scotland Academy is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Bank of Scotland does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 14th July 2023.