Almost every aspect of daily life has been impacted by the recent cost-of-living crisis, from gas prices to our weekly food shops. However, as the cost-of-living issue takes root, millions more people have been targeted by scammers, according to new data from Citizens Advice. That’s an increase of 14% from last year, and more than 75% of UK people indicated they have been the target of a scammer this year.
We have seen a staggering 170% growth in loan scams, a 131% growth in job fraud, a 128% growth in investment scams and a considerable increase in scam messages relating to energy bills over the last three months.
“We know that scammers prey on our worries and fears, and the cost of living crisis is no exception”, warns Dame Claire Moriarty, CEO of Citizens Advice.
At Bob’s Business, we aim to build a world where everyone feels safe online. As part of that mission, we have pulled together a list of some of the most prominent scams targeting individuals today, alongside advice on what to do if you fall victim. Let’s get started.
Here are the facts: the Government has announced its intention to provide a £400 non-repayable discount to households with a domestic electricity meter, to help with energy bills throughout the winter months.
The discount will be administered by energy suppliers and paid to consumers in instalments over six months, with payments starting from October 2022.
However, as householders wait for the cost of living payments to be applied to energy bill accounts, scammers are targeting individuals with texts claiming to be from Ofgem, asking people to apply for their £400 rebate. If the victim clicks on a link to enter their bank details, they could risk losing all of their bank balance.
Needless to say, these texts are fake. There are a few ways to spot this, such as the standard mobile phone number and the URL, which isn’t from a gov.uk address.
To ease confusion, here’s what you need to know about the scheme, according to the DWP:
According to a recent study, a quarter of Brits would contemplate taking cash out of their pension account sooner than expected due to the cost-of-living crisis.
In comparison to the previous year, the number of pension pots accessed for the first time increased by 18% to 705,666 in 2021/22, according to the UK's finance watchdog. Sadly, scammers are utilising this climate to drain people of their hard-earned money.
Be cautious if you get an unexpected text, call, email, or letter in the mail offering you something free, such as a pension review; it could be a scam. Scammers will exploit their victims' knowledge of how pension savings work after successfully distracting their victims, in order to get their hard-earned money.
Watch out for these commonly used tactics of pension scammers and make sure you keep your pension pots safe:
Scammers are also taking to social media to offer fake bank refunds. This scam shares a fraudulent screenshot showing amounts from £1,289 to £1,855 being deposited into someone’s account.
This scam tempts you into parting with your bank details. The scammer will use your details to set up your account on their device, giving them access to your bank account. They then use the banking app to dispute a transaction and get a refund.
Finally - do not be ashamed. Anyone can be a victim of fraud. Be honest with yourself and ask for help, it’s the fastest way to get to a solution.
Whilst these cost-of-living scams target individuals, businesses are just as liable to be attacked - especially with inflationary pressures coming to bear on companies.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to ensure you’re giving your team amazing cybersecurity awareness training to help reduce their risk of falling victim to an attack - both at home and in the office. Start training your employees today.