Financial Planning

Common scams in 2023 and how to avoid them

Common scams in 2023 and how to avoid them

Common scams in 2023 and how to avoid them

This content is for information and inspiration purposes only. It should not be taken as financial or investment advice. To receive personalised, regulated financial advice regarding your affairs please consult an independent financial adviser.

Theft is as old as humanity itself. Yet methods change with new technology, particularly in the online space where “digital scams” continue to pose a threat. At Cedar House, we want to help clients avoid falling prey to tactics used by scammers in 2023. This is especially important as many families struggle with the cost of living crisis. In this guide you will find a review of some common financial scams identified in recent years and how to avoid them. We hope this is useful to you. If you want to discuss your own financial plan with us, please contact our team for more information or to access personalised financial advice:

020 8366 4400 or


Disaster relief scams

In the first half of 2022 alone, over three-quarters of UK adults reported being the target of a scam – a 14% rise on the same period in 2021. Scammers often like to target an individual’s sense of charity. On 6 February 2023, for instance, the Turkey-Syria earthquake took thousands of lives and many British people felt moved to offer financial assistance. However, the UK’s Charity Commission urged everyone to “give safely” out of fear that donations may be targeted by scammers. These might arrive in the form of unsolicited emails, texts or social media ads which pose as recognised charities, asking for money. Action Fraud suggests checking the registration number of a charity before giving (all charities with over £5,000 annual income will be registered). Do not click on links on digital ads or emails. Instead, navigate directly to the charity’s official website.


Romance scams

Despite efforts to increase data protection in European countries, it is still easy for your phone number to fall into the hands of someone you do not know. Scammers can then contact you via WhatsApp, your direct mobile number or another messaging app to try and trick them. Recently, major banks like Lloyds and Nationwide issued a “romance scam” warning in light of Valentine’s Day – citing a 30% rise in scam reports. Victims are most likely to be aged 65-74 and lose, on average, £8,000. Those struggling with emotional trauma – e.g. widows who have recently lost their spouse or partner – are especially vulnerable. The scams usually start on a more “public” messaging platform like Facebook or Tinder, before moving to a more “private” chat on an app like WhatsApp. Banking officials suggest looking for “red flags” when speaking to unknown individuals online. These include a reluctance/unwillingness to appear on camera or meet in person, requests for money and a “sudden” romance with someone who seems “perfect”.


Identity theft

It is certainly not new for scammers to find someone’s private identity information and use it to steal money. Yet new technologies open up new ways for this to happen. In the days of paper bank statements, someone could steal your identity by rummaging through your bins (which is why many people shredded documents before disposal). In 2023, however, identity theft is more likely to occur online. For instance, perhaps an e-commerce website is hacked and your data is stolen (e.g. bank details). Or, maybe a scammer finds your phone number and asks the telecom provider to transfer your number to a different SIM (i.e. “SIM jacking”). From there, a hacker can access a range of personal accounts and even bypass 2-factor authentication security checks based on SMS. To protect yourself, avoid sharing personal information unnecessarily. Use an app for 2-factor authentication (e.g. Google Authenticator) so that a hacker cannot use SIM jacking to authenticate on another device. Protect your device with security software such as firewalls and use different passwords for different accounts – changing each one regularly. 


Fraudulent or “ghost” brokers

You need to be especially careful when approaching financial products such as car insurance and pension advice. The former has been highlighted by the City of London Police, stressing that 17 to 29-year-olds are most likely to be targets (with older people also falling prey). The scamming tactic involves selling invalid car insurance policies to victims at a very low cost. A victim may not realise they have been scammed until trying to make a claim. The fraudsters often canvass people via word of mouth or on social media. Be very careful about insurance products posted on student forums, university notice boards and marketplace websites.

Older people are still potential targets for pension scams. In particular, scammers like to offer “early access” to an individual’s pension funds (e.g. before age 55), which can be tempting when inflation is currently sitting at double digits. Another tactic is to receive investment offers with promises of sky-high, guaranteed returns. Yet the underlying investment is often based overseas in a “dodgy” scheme. Here, pension money can be stolen once it is transferred and the likelihood of retrieval is very low. To protect yourself, hang up the phone on anyone who calls you (unsolicited) about a “pension review” or pension “liberation”. Check that a financial adviser is regulated by the FCA before dealing with them (you can find ours here). Avoid any person who pushes you to make a quick financial decision and also steer clear of anyone who offers a “guaranteed” return on investment.



Interested in discussing your financial plan with an experienced financial adviser? Get in touch today to discuss your financial plan with a member of our team here at Cedar House via a free, no-commitment consultation:

020 8366 4400 or


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