Last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £15billion package of additional financial support for millions of households across the UK who are finding it increasingly difficult to stretch their budgets to cover the rising coronavirus. Cost of life.
The new measures will see millions of the UK’s most vulnerable households eligible for £1,200 in aid later this year, as well as a £400 non-refundable discount on their electricity bills – paid directly to suppliers and deducted from invoices over six months.
But while increased cash will help households cope with rising costs, the crisis is also fertile ground for scammers and fraudsters looking for ways to exploit the financially vulnerable.
Capitalizing on the cash needs of struggling households and people wanting to save or do a little more, some offers may seem tempting.
Here are four scams everyone should watch out for over the next few months.
About 2.1 million tax credit clients are expected to renew their annual claims by July 31.
Criminals will mimic UK government messages to make them appear authentic in their phone calls, text messages and emails.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) says scammers may try to threaten people about non-existent tax bills, or they may try to tempt them with ‘tax cuts’. Scammers may also claim there is a problem with the person’s National Insurance (NI) number or direct debit.
HMRC suggests searching gov.uk for authentic information and advice.
Motorists may be tempted by supposedly cheap insurance offers – especially young drivers, who often pay more for their insurance and may be inexperienced in buying cover.
But insurance giant Aviva has warned people to watch out for offers from unsolicited or unusual sources, particularly if they come through social media or word of mouth.
“Ghost brokers” pretend to be real brokers offering car insurance. Fonts are purchased through legitimate companies, but using fake information which is then doctored and resold – this is often only when someone claims they realize the font is invalid .
People can check a broker’s status on the websites of the Financial Conduct Authority or the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, or contact insurers directly.
Holidaymakers may be looking to cut their getaway costs, but it’s worth remembering that Action Fraud figures show victims of holiday and travel fraud lose an average of £1,868.
Action Fraud suggests people check whether companies are members of Abta – look for slight changes in the website you are viewing, such as the domain name changing from .co.uk to .org – and do a thorough search online to see if anyone else has had any issues with the company.
Fraudsters may also try to exploit people who are struggling to keep up with rising energy bills.
There have been reports of criminals calling people for their bank details, pretending to be government officials who need them to process municipal tax refunds to help people with the rising cost of living.
Be safe online advises people to hang up immediately if they receive such a call.