Warning of rise in scammers as cost of living crisis bites

Over 40 million have been targeted by scammers in the last year, charity warns.

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As the cost-of-living crisis intensifies, new data by Citizens Advice reveals that fraudsters have targeted millions more people.

More than three-quarters of UK individuals reported being scammed this year, a 14 percent rise compared to the same period last year.

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Citizens Advice and the Consumer Protection Partnership have launched its annual Scams Awareness campaign to help consumers protect themselves from opportunistic scammers in advance of many households receiving essential government assistance for the cost-of-living problem.

Scammers have employed a variety of cost-of-living scams, according to Citizens Advice.

These have included emails purporting to be from the regulator Ofgem demanding recipients to provide their bank details in order to receive a £400 energy rebate, or stating the government is randomly distributing £200,000 to persons of retirement age, the disabled, and those with low incomes.

Sheree, who is 65 years old and lives alone, receives approximately £800 per month from her private pension and Personal Independence Payment to meet her essential expenses and care.

Although she had never bought online, she was the victim of a scam in which thieves charged approximately £1,000 to her card.

She said: “When I checked my balance my heart literally dropped. I had no money, I couldn’t buy any food.

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“I went to Citizens Advice, I was so distraught and really upset. I really do not know what I would have done without the food and fuel vouchers as I don’t have anyone to ask for help.

“My bank did manage to get my money back, but the whole thing was extremely stressful. My health really suffered over those couple of weeks as all I was doing was worrying about how I was going to eat and pay my bills.”

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We know scammers prey on our worries and fears and the cost-of-living crisis is no exception.

“Anyone can be targeted by a scam, and as the purse strings are tightened and financial pressures pile on, it’s more important than ever we recognise the red flags.

“By reporting scams and sharing our own experiences, we can work together to protect ourselves and each other.”

Consumer Minister, Paul Scully, said: “While the government is providing £37 billion this year to help families with the cost of living, it is disgraceful that scammers are using the difficult times families have been facing to try and rip them off.

“I urge everyone to report scams to Citizens Advice so we can stop these crooks in their tracks.”

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