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Cost of Living crisis scams

Criminals are using the Cost-of-Living crisis to exploit people out of their money, with over three quarters of adults in the UK saying they’ve been targeted by scammers using the current rising costs to trick them into handing over money and personal details.

Scammers are taking advantage of people affected by the current rise in living costs, pretending to be government officials or energy companies and offering bogus rebates, grants, and other support payments.

As you can imagine, this has sadly left people who are already struggling even more worse off.

To help prevent you and your loved ones from becoming a victim of Cost-of-Living scams, we’ve put together a list of current scams that fraudsters are using and the steps you can take to avoid them.

Government/HMRC Cost of Living help texts

The Government recently announced a cost-of-living payment to help millions of households in the UK.

The payment was sent automatically to all who were eligible, with no application necessary.

This however didn’t stop fraudsters sending texts, pretending to be from the Government or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), asking people to apply for the payment.

Some of the people who received these scam texts also received a follow-up email asking them to call a fake number where they were asked to provide even more sensitive and financial information.

These kinds of messages are commonly known as smishing scams with scammers aiming to get as much private information out of you as possible, such as banking details or passwords.

To prevent yourself from becoming a victim of a smishing attack, it’s best not to give out private information and not to reply to text messages, download attachments or click on any links in emails unless you’re sure it’s from a genuine contact.

If you believe that you’ve been targeted by a cost-of-living payment phishing scam, you can:

  • Forward scam emails to [email protected], and the National Cyber Security Centre will investigate it.
  • Forward scam texts to 7726, this will report the message to your mobile phone provider free of charge.

Rebates and Refunds Scams

Scammers are pretending to be local governments and are using a recent £150 council tax rebate to ask people to apply for the money by passing on their banking details over the phone.

These kinds of phone calls are commonly known as vishing scams. Vishing is when scammers try to trick victims into giving up sensitive information like credit card numbers, bank account details and passwords, over the phone

The rebate, however, is paid automatically to those who pay their council tax by direct debit, and most of these people should have received their payment by now.

Local councils have urged households not to give out any sensitive information and advised people if they get a call which doesn’t look genuine to hang up and call their local council directly using the contact number on their website.

It’s not just governments, scammers are also pretending to be the energy regulator Ofgem texting households inviting them to apply for a £400 rebate to help them pay for their heating bills this winter.

Ofgem will never text you to offer a rebate, so don’t respond or click on any links if you receive these types of texts.

If you think you’ve been a victim of one of these scams get in touch with Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or call the police on 101 and call your bank directly if you’ve shared any of your account details.

For more information on how to report fraud visit https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/reporting-a-scam/

For more information on the types of scams and how to protect yourself from fraudulent activities visit https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/