Support with rising living costs
Cost of Living Scams
Citizens Advice Consumer Service have reported that over 40million people have been targeted by scammers as the cost of living crisis bites.
Scammers are using the cost of living crisis to their advantage to adapt their tactics and exploit unsuspecting homeowners.
To help you stay safe, here is a guide to some of the scams out there
Green energy scams
The number of people looking at the option of solar panels is rising but there is also a rise in door-to-door and telephone sales trying to sell overpriced services making false claims of being from legitimate energy companies.
- Do your research to compare prices, get multiple quotes and only use accredited installation companies.
- Never provide personal or bank account details over the telephone.
- Do not be fooled into thinking they may already have the details and are just looking to confirm them.
- Never be intimidated into making a quick decision because ‘the offer is available for a limited period only’.
- If you are unsure if the call is genuine, end the call by hanging up.
With households struggling financially, many may turn to loans to make ends meet.
A money lender has to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to lend money legally. Money lenders who aren’t authorised by the FCA are breaking the law. They are known as loan sharks.
DO NOT USE LOAN SHARKS. THEY ARE ILLEGAL.
If someone who has lent you money threatens you or is violent, contact the police straight away.
You can find out whether a money lender is authorised by checking the register on the FCA website at www.fca.org.uk.
Follow this link for advice on loan sharks: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/borrowing-money/types-of-borrowing/loans/loan-sharks/
Loan fee fraud
This fraud is when customers are pressured into paying an upfront fee when searching for a loan…but then never receive the loan. This fraud is expected to spread as the cost-of-living crisis rises. Victims are often asked to make the payment through methods such as using a voucher. This scam affects those aged 25 to 45 the most and those that are under financial pressure, or have limited borrowing options left.
It could be a scam if you are:
- asked to pay an upfront cost
- pressured to pay quickly
- asked to pay in an unusual way, such as vouchers or money transfer.
If you are not sure about whether to take a loan you can check whether the loan provider is registered here: https://register.fca.org.uk/s/
Further advice can be found from Financial Conduct Authority, Citizens Advice, StepChange Debt, National Debtline, PayPlan, or Shelter.
New Omicron Jab
As the new Omicron Covid vaccine is being rolled out, there are concerns that scammers will again try to scam people in the UK with tactics such as texts posing as the NHS asking victims to click links/enter card details. This is being monitored.
Gift Card Scams
Scammers are promoting vouchers, free food parcels and petrol gift cards through social media platforms such as Facebook, often impersonating popular supermarket brands claiming to help those struggling in the current climate. These are scam ads. Avoid clicking links and report the post using the platforms protocall.
Read more here: https://www.which.co.uk/news/article/5-big-cost-of-living-scams-to-watch-out-for-agaTQ9M8g1hp
Energy Bill Scam
Action Fraud has received 139 crime reports relating to fake text messages purporting to be from the UK government and a significant number of these relate to the energy price cap.
Reported scam emails display the subject header 'Claim your bill rebate now' and carry the Ofgem logo to make the email appear authentic.
The email often claims the recipient is “owed” or “eligible” for an energy bill discount as part of the Energy Bill Support Scheme.
The links in the emails lead to genuine-looking websites designed to steal your personal and financial information.
The website encourages people to set up a direct debit to receive the money.
For the real Energy Bill Discount which is aplied through your energy provider (up to £400 off energy bills for households in Great Britain from October 2022), you do not need to apply for the scheme and you will not be asked for your bank details.
British Gas Fake Email: Scammers are also impersonating British Gas and sending fake emails with promises of energy refunds. Urging recipients to click dangerous links. These reportedly addresses you by your email address and not your name, so watch out for this.
Have you spotted a suspicious text message? Forward it to 7726 (it’s free of charge). If you forward a text to 7726, your provider can investigate the origin of the text and arrange to block or ban the sender, if it’s found to be malicious.
Follow this link for more information: https://www.neighbourhoodmatters.co.uk/Alerts/A/45298/ALERT-Energy-bill-scam-texts#:~:text=Action%20Fraud%20has%20received%20139,the%20Energy%20Bill%20Support%20Scheme.