Fraudsters often use emails and texts to try to scam organisations. Their goal is to steal details and money. Real companies will never message telling you to move money or asking for your details. Keeping up to date and knowing what to do can help you to avoid them.

In this lesson, we’ll help you learn about the different types of scams. We’ll talk about the main threats from scams and how to avoid them. And we’ll show you how to protect your organisation.


  • Understand the different types of scams
  • Know what to look out for
  • Keep yourself and your organisation safe

Read time:

4 mins

Chapter 1

What to watch out for

Read time:

2 mins

Impersonation scams

This is when someone pretends to be from your business or charity, to steal money. They do this by asking you to make an urgent payment for them. If a message asks for an urgent payment, always call the sender in person to make sure it’s real. Use a number you trust and not one from a message.

Remember – always double check the sender is real.


Malware (viruses)

Fraudsters can hide a ‘virus’ in a message attachment or link. This can then infect your device. A virus slows your device, and the fraudsters use it to steal your details and money.


Here are two of the main types to watch out for:


Fraudsters use technology to steal your details or money by spying on your device.


Fraudsters block files and / or stop your device from working properly. Then they ask for money to get your device working again.


Some types of spyware will take your device over; others will monitor your movements. It can often come from following links or opening attachments that you weren’t expecting. But even if you pay, you might not get access to your computer back. Only follow a link or download a file if you know and trust the sender or website you’re on.



Here, the fraudsters want to make money by interfering with your device in some way, then asking for payment to fix the issue.


Always check the website or email is real before you follow any links or download anything.

Links to fake sites

Some scam messages use a link that takes you to a fake site. The site will then try to steal your details. Only follow a link if you know and trust the sender. If the website you’re using looks odd in any way, don’t log on or enter any details or passwords. It could be a fake site, or your device may have a virus.


Remember – think before you follow that link. If in doubt, move away from sites you don’t trust.

Chapter 2

How you can stay safe

Read time:

1 min

Top tips to keep safe online

If you’re not sure if a message or website is a scam, here are a few things to look out for:

  • Bad spelling - Check for minor spelling mistakes in email addresses. For example: ‘Lloids Bank’ instead of ‘Lloyds Bank’
  • Messages out of the blue - Even if you know the sender, be careful with a message that you didn’t expect
  • Links or attachments in a message - Only select these if you’re sure it’s safe
  • Details wanted - Real companies or people will never message you to move money, or for banking or personal details
  • Double check the sender is real - If you get an urgent request to make a payment or change payment details, check. It might be a scam. Always double check it’s real by speaking to them in person, or by calling them on a number you trust
  • Anti-virus software - Always use it to protect your devices

Chapter 3

What to do if you think you’ve been scammed

Read time:

1 min

Simple first steps

The first thing to do is report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at 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 straight away.


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 17th July 2023.