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02 Jul 2022

4 cost of living scams to watch out for

4 cost of living scams to watch out for

Scammers are preying on hard-pressed households’ need for cash – and with living costs surging and people eager to save money or make a bit extra, some offers may seem particularly tempting.

Here’s a look at some of the scams, which people may be particularly susceptible to as living costs bite…

1. Tax scams

About 2.1 million tax credits customers are expected to renew their annual claims by July 31. Criminals will mimic government messages to make them appear authentic in their phone calls, texts 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 rebates’. Scammers may also claim there is an issue with the person’s national insurance (NI) number or direct debit.

HMRC suggests searching gov.uk for genuine information and guidance.

2. Fake insurance

Motorists may be tempted by supposedly cheap insurance deals – particularly young drivers, who often pay more for their insurance and may be inexperienced at buying cover. But insurance giant Aviva has warned people to watch out for offers from unsolicited or unusual sources – particularly if it’s via social media or word of mouth.

‘Ghost brokers’ pretend to be genuine brokers offering car insurance. Policies are bought through legitimate companies but using false information. They are then doctored and sold on. It’s often only when someone claims that they realise the policy isn’t valid.

People can check a broker’s status on the Financial Conduct Authority or British Insurance Brokers’ Association websites, or contact insurers directly.

3. Holiday scams

Holidaymakers may be looking to cut their costs on getaways, but it’s worth remembering that Action Fraud figures show victims of holiday and travel-related fraud lose £1,868 on average.

Action Fraud suggests people check whether firms are members of Abta – look for any slight changes to the website you are viewing, such the domain name going from .co.uk to .org – and do a thorough online search for reviews to see if anyone else has had problems with the company.

4. Bogus rebates

Fraudsters may try to exploit people struggling to cope with rising energy bills too. There have been reports of criminals calling people to obtain their bank details, claiming to be officials who need them to process council tax rebates to help people deal with the rise in living costs.

Get Safe Online is advising people to hang up immediately if they receive such a call (getsafeonline.org).

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