FINANCIAL scams involving payment cards, remote banking and cheques totalled £768.8 million across the UK in 2016, a two per cent increase on the previous year and equivalent to about £2m a day, according to figures from Financial Fraud Action UK.

In a recent survey of its customers Royal Bank of Scotland identified ‘goods not received’ scams as the most common that Scottish consumers fall for, with more than 2,000 cases reported since the start of 2016. Customers typically lose an average of £1,560 through such scams.

To avoid being duped, consumers should make sure the web address they are buying from begins with ‘https’ and that a padlock symbol is included in the address bar, as this means that personal information will be encrypted.

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A spokesman for the bank said: “We encourage everyone to check the item description carefully and always read the website’s dispute resolution policy before buying. Customers should use recognised, official payment services and never pay via direct bank transfer off-site.”

Phishing is another common scam. If you receive an email that looks as if it has come from your bank, credit card company or other trusted organisation asking for your account details, you could be the potential victim of phishing.

Such emails usually contain a link to a fake company website and you will be asked to enter personal information, such as your password or bank details. Vishing is similar to phishing, but you receive a phone call rather than an email. Then there is smishing, which involves a text message.

Katy Worobec, director of Financial Fraud Action UK, said: “Information is the lifeblood of the financial fraudster – whether it’s your personal information or security details, criminals need it to commit their crimes. We all need to become far more protective of our personal details, and much more careful about giving them out.”

Watch out for generic requests as most scam communications are not personalised. Also, avoid using an email link to a website. Remember, too, that a UK bank will never email, text or call to ask for your full PIN number, banking password or any other personal information.

Investment scams often see people contacted out of the blue with the offer of an investment opportunity promising tempting rewards. It might be the chance to invest in fine wine, land, or gold and it will almost always be “guaranteed” to rise in price. Share scams, also called boiler-room scams, are a type of investment scam, where you are invited to invest in shares.

If you buy the shares, you will probably find that the company either does not exist or the stock is worthless. If you are tempted by fine wine, or gold, you might discover that your investment is overpriced and difficult to sell.

A spokesperson for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said: “Investment scams can be sophisticated and difficult to spot. Be alert to the warning signs such as being contacted out of the blue, promises of low risk and guaranteed above market returns, and being put under pressure to make a quick decision. Before investing, always check the FCA Register to see if the firm or individual you are dealing with is authorised and check the FCA Warning List of firms to avoid. If in any doubt – don’t invest.”

Pensions scams are widespread, particularly since the recent relaxation of pension rules. The latest figures show that more than £8m was lost to so-called pension liberation scams in the month of March, a record amount.

You might be asked to cash in your pension and hand it over to the scammer to invest, with the promise of a high return. Or you might be told that you can cash in your pension before the age of 55. Fraudsters also often offer free pension reviews or no-obligation consultations.

Andrew Tully, pensions technical director of Retirement Advantage, a retirement planning specialist, said: “Pension freedoms are providing more choice for savers but have also opened up the market to conmen and fraudsters who prey on the vulnerable and those hoping for early access to their pensions.”

You can access your pension savings before the age of 55 in only very rare circumstances, so treat any approach with extreme caution. There are also tax implications if you take all or some of your pension pot as a lump sum and invest it, so be on your guard for such offers. You should also make sure that any company is authorised by the FCA.

If you fall victim to a fraudster, there is no guarantee that you will get your money back. If you pay by credit card for goods or services costing over £100 and up to £30,000 you might be able to claim a refund from the credit card company if the seller goes bust or the goods do not turn up. Debit cards do not offer the same legal protection, but the voluntary ‘chargeback’ agreement allows you to claim a refund from the debit card if a purchase is faulty, does not arrive, or costs less than £100.

If you make a bank transfer directly into another person’s account, however, you will be on much less solid ground.

As the Royal Bank spokesperson said: “We look at each customer’s situation on a case by case basis and we will endeavour to recover the customer’s money, but if they have willingly paid the fraudster we are unlikely to offer redress.”