Stay scam smart
We saw a surge in scams during the COVID-19 pandemic, and – as the cost-of-living crisis bites – it seems that scammers are out in force again.
Research by Citizens Advice shows that over 40 million people – or more than three-quarters of all UK adults – have been targeted by a scammer this year. One of the best ways to stay vigilant is to be aware of which scams are being reported.
One of the most common scams currently is the offer of a refund or rebate of some kind. As household costs soar and people become increasingly vulnerable financially, it’s natural to want to claw some of that money back – and scammers are only too happy to exploit this.
Citizens Advice and the Consumer Protection Partnership say that people have been sent emails purporting to be from energy regulator Ofgem – recipients are asked to hand over their bank details so they can receive a rebate. Other scams involve tax rebates or refunds from the government or HMRC.
Other types of scams
- Mail or courier companies asking for bank details to cover additional postage costs
- Get-rich-quick investment schemes that promise high or guaranteed returns
- A ‘family member’ getting in touch by text or WhatsApp asking for money to replace a lost or stolen phone
Recognising the signs of a scam
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute warns that it might be a scam if:
- It seems too good to be true – for example, scammers pretending to be energy companies trying to lure people in with suspiciously good deals, especially as energy costs shoot up
- You suspect that you’re not dealing with a real company – genuine businesses tend not to contact people speculatively, so take a moment to check who’s really contacting you
- You’ve been pressured to transfer money quickly
- You’ve been asked to pay in an unusual way, for example through a transfer service or with vouchers
- You’ve been asked to give away personal information like passwords, PINs or verification codes
If you think you’ve been scammed
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute recommends you:
- Contact your bank or card company immediately if you’ve handed out any financial or sensitive information (your bank details or a card number), or made any payments
- Report the scam – see below
Report to your mobile service provider by forwarding the text to 7726
As well as the above, you can also report the scam to Action Fraud
The more informed you are about scams, the less likely you’ll be to fall victim to one. Outsmart the scammers by signing up for the Which? Magazine Scam Alert Service to hear about new and emerging scams.
Don’t forget to protect your pension
Your pension is likely to be one of your most valuable assets, so it’s really important you keep it safe.
The Financial Conduct Authority provides helpful guidance on how to spot and avoid scams. To help you understand the different ways you can be scammed, and what to do if you think this has happened to you visit MoneyHelper.