Published on: 3 July 2023

What are payment in advance scams?

Payment in advance scams are when criminals contact you, often over email, by text or through social media, asking you to pay an upfront fee to receive money, a prize, a job, a service or goods that you weren’t expecting. Then, when you pay the fees, you don’t get what you’ve been promised.

Sometimes, scammers will even urge you to pay a little more. They might pretend there are extra administrative fees to cover before they can process your order.

These scammers will use different stories to convince you. They pretend you've won the lottery; they're processing a personal loan application or they're trying to send you something you've ordered.

Whatever it is, once they have your money, you wont hear from them again.

Warning signs of a payment in advance scam

  • It doesn't make sense that you would need to pay upfront.
    It may sound obvious, but it's a good first check. Ask yourself: does it make sense that I need to pay this fee upfront? Have you ever been asked to pay upfront before you can be sent an item or prize draw winnings? If you’re not sure, check a payment with us before you send any money.

  • You're contacted out of the blue.
    If you haven’t ordered the item, haven’t entered yourself into that prize draw or weren’t looking into that service, you shouldn’t be contacted. And you especially shouldn’t be asked to pay any money. Do not respond to these messages – just press delete.

  • You're pressured to pay quickly or with an unusual method.
    You might be asked to pay with things like Western Union, bank transfer or even cryptocurrency. These are warning signs of a scam.

  • You’re not given any guarantee that you’ll get what you’ve been promised.
    If you weren’t told about any upfront fees when you made the purchase, they’re not trustworthy. So, there’s no guarantee now that by paying this fee, you’ll finally receive what you're owed.

  • You’re contacted using suspicious contact details.
    If you’re contacted online, double check their contact details. Does the email address look legitimate and match the company that’s emailing you? Is the company or organisation listed on Companies House? If so, compare the details listed and see if they match. If they don’t, it’s likely to be a scam.

  • You’ve been contacted via social media.
    Be wary of potentially fake profiles on social media platforms such as LinkedIn as they could be offering jobs that don’t exist.

How to report suspicious messages

Report suspicious emails, texts and messages that refer to Nationwide by emailing We don't reply to every email, but we do review every message we receive. This information helps us to stop crime.

You can also forward any other suspicious emails that refer to another organisation to and suspicious texts to 7726.

Our partnership with Independent Age

We’re working together to support members over the age of 65 who are at risk of, or have fallen victim to, fraud and scams.

Independent Age can help with a range of issues that can affect people in later life. So if you, or someone you know has lost money, needs emotional support or financial advice, get in touch. You can also download their Scamwise guide.

Stop. Challenge. Protect

We're proud to be supporting the industry fraud awareness campaign Take Five, which encourages you to perfect the art of saying NO to criminals by taking five minutes to Stop, Challenge, Protect.

Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police so it can be difficult to spot scam texts, emails and phone calls. However, there are things we can all do to protect ourselves.

Always remember to challenge if someone contacts you asking for your personal or financial information – be direct and say NO. Saying NO can feel uncomfortable but it’s OK to reject, refuse or ignore requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

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