Heightened Scams During Cost of Living Crisis

Credit Evie Kim Sing Digital ID Biometrics

Types of scams

Here are some of the scams that you’re likely to hear about – or may even be affected by – as peoples’ purse strings are tightened and increasing financial pressures. The list is by no means exhaustive, as fraudsters are highly adept at keeping abreast of unfortunate situations with very convincing and persuasive messages.

·  Texts purporting to be from ‘Gov.org’ or the ‘DWP’ inviting applications or claims for cost-of-living payments. In fact, payments are made automatically so there’s no need to make such a claim.

·  Bogus emails, texts or calls claiming to be from the local council requesting bank or card details so that the £150 council tax rebate can be paid. Again, this is not necessary to receive the payment.

·  Fake messages about energy payments relief purporting to be from Ofgem, the energy regulator. Payments are actually being overseen not by Ofgem, but the Treasury.

·  Emails, texts, or calls claiming to be sent by energy suppliers offering switching deals, cheaper tariffs, discounts on prepayment meters or rebates.

·  WhatsApp scams where you receive a message from someone on a number you don’t recognise claiming to be a family member or friend, informing you they have changed their phone number. A short while later, they request money to solve ‘a problem which needs payment’ (made more believable by the cost-of-living crisis), also known as the ‘Friend in Need’ or ‘Mum and Dad’ scam.

·  Advertisements, emails, texts or social media posts offering either non-existent loans or those with incredibly high interest rates, to help you through a period of financial hardship.

·  An invitation to join ‘get rich quick’ schemes or jobs, with seemingly (so probably) impossible returns. These range from supposed high return pension and other investment schemes to being paid for the use of your bank account – the latter almost certainly resulting in money muling, a criminal offence in its own right.

·  A general increase in ‘traditional’ scams offering great deals on tickets, holidays, vehicles, consumer goods, fashion, and other things you purchase online. What you buy is either non-existent or not as advertised.

Protect yourself

·  Do your research: never send money to anyone you don’t know personally or buy anything you’re not entirely sure of.

·  Look out for spelling and grammatical errors in emails and texts, not being addressed by your name and poor layouts.

·  Never reveal personal or financial data including usernames, passwords, PINs, or ID numbers.

·  Don’t open email attachments or click on links in communications from unknown sources.

·  Make sure your antivirus software is up to date and run a scan before opening anything you’re suspicious of. Always update software, apps and operating systems when prompted, or set them to update automatically.

·  Think before you click: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

·  To check whether a website is likely to be legitimate or fraudulent, enter its address at getsafeonline.org/checkawebsite.

·  Access more local information via www.westsussex.gov.uk/staying-safe-online and national information via www.getsafeonline.org.

Also a reminder of the upcoming scams awareness webinars relevant for both residents and professionals: 

·  Wednesday 23 November 2022 10.00am-11.30am. Reserve a space.

·  Tuesday 7 February 2023 2.00pm-3.30pm. Reserve a space.

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