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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/frauds-tricks-and-scams/fraud-tricks-and-scams
This page gives you advice on protecting yourself from tricks and scams the Home Office is aware of.
If you receive an unexpected email, telephone call or letter from someone who claims to be from the Home Office, it may be a scam. We will never contact you to ask for money or your personal details.
1. How the fraudsters may contact you
We know that criminals are:
- telephoning people in the UK and other countries
- using websites to offer fake services, work or study in the UK and guaranteed visas to enter the UK
- using email addresses or SMS numbers that look official but are not
2. Tricks they use
The criminals try to make you believe that they can offer you something very easily, such as a visa for the UK, or that there is a problem with your application or visa.
They will try to make themselves seem very genuine and may use language that sounds official or false documents such as a job offer letter than looks real. They may already seem to know something about you, such as your name and address, or that you have applied for a visa. Then they ask you for money or for your personal information.
3. We know about the following scams
Websites that offer jobs in the UK that do not exist
If you apply for one, they tell you that you have the job and ask you to pay visa and work permit fees. That is not how our visa system works, and there are no shortcuts to a job in the UK. A genuine employer would direct you to this website, where you can make an official application. If the job offer sounds too good to be true, it could be a scam. We will never guarantee a job in the UK
A person pretending to be an officer from the Home Office or from a visa application centre
They may go to your home to ask for money to process your partner’s visa. Legitimate visa officers will only meet you at their offices and will never contact you to ask for money in person or by email or phone.
They may call and tell you there is a serious problem with your visa. They contact people within the UK and in other countries, and often target students. They appear to be genuine and convincing, and may give a false name and return phone number. They tell you to send money as soon as possible using different methods of payment such as MoneyGram, to prevent some kind of action, like deportation or cancellation of your visa.
People who target applicants for UK work or study visas
They ask you to pay a deposit as proof that you have enough funds to support yourself in the UK. As part of the official application process, you must give us evidence that you have enough money to support yourself, but we will never ask you to give us money.
Agents claiming to work for the Home Office or visa application centres
They tell you they can get you a visa using forged documents. We have advanced methods of identifying forgeries and will refuse your application if you use them.
You should pay attention to any documents you receive or submit as part of your application to check they are real. This includes looking for spelling mistakes or grammar mistakes, and incorrect letterhead or branding.
Fake agents may say they can speed up the process of getting a visa and may ask for payment in iTunes vouchers or into a personal bank account for the progression of a visa application.
Fake government websites
Fake websites are designed to look like official ones for the UK government or its official visa enquiry services. Official UK government websites always have ‘.gov.uk’ at the end of their website address.
Fake email addresses
Official Home Office email addresses are always in this format:
These are the formats of official Foreign and Commonwealth Office email addresses:
Sometimes the email address you see on the screen of a fake website or email is in that format, but when you click on it, it creates an email that will be sent to a different address. Always check the actual address on the email you are sending.
We will never ask for payment by email, at a visa application centre or into a personal bank account. All associated costs such as visa fees or premium services should be paid online on the official GOV.UK and commercial partner websites.
4. How to protect yourself
You should be suspicious if:
- what they offer seems too good to be true – an easy job in the UK, or a way to get a UK visa quickly and easily
- you are guaranteed a visa to enter the UK using documents they provide to support your application
- they ask you for money, particularly if they ask you for cash or to pay using insecure payment methods such as money transfer, Ukash voucher or Paysafecard (which you buy at a shop) – these methods do not allow the recipient to be traced
- they ask for your bank account or credit card details, or confidential information
- they demand secrecy or try to force you to act immediately
- the website does not look professional (badly written or designed) or does not include any information about the organisation
- you are asked to reply to a free email account such as Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, or Gmail which may also contain poor grammar and spelling
If you are suspicious:
- do not give out any personal information, or confirm that any personal information they have is correct
- do not pay them any money
- do not pay them using electronic vouchers
5. Report any suspicions of fraud
Please report your suspicions or incidents to Action Fraud, either on the Action Fraud website or (only if you are in the UK) by phoning 0300 123 2040.
Action Fraud provides a fraud-reporting and advice centre, where people and small businesses can report fraud, attempted fraud and scam emails.
Your reports will then be passed on to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and analysed to see if they can be used as part of a police investigation.
You can help to stop scammers by warning your friends and family, and by making Action Fraud aware of any scams that you have encountered.