Last week Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £15 billion package to provide further financial support to millions of households across the UK who are finding it increasingly difficult to stretch their budgets to meet rising living costs.
The new measures will give millions of the most vulnerable households across the UK £1,200 in support later in the year, plus a £400 non-refundable rebate on their electricity bills – paid directly to suppliers and deducted from bills over six months.
But while the cash boost will help households cope with rising costs, the crisis is also breeding ground for scammers and scammers looking for ways to take advantage of the financially vulnerable.
Some offers may seem enticing as they cater to the cash needs of struggling households and people looking to save money or earn some extra money.
Here are four scams everyone needs to watch out for in the coming months.
Approximately 2.1 million Tax Credits customers are expected to have their annual entitlements renewed by July 31.
Criminals mimic UK government messages to make them appear authentic in their phone calls, text messages and emails.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) says scammers could try to threaten people about not having tax bills, or they could try to lure them with “tax refunds”. Scammers can also claim that there is a problem with the person’s Social Security (NI) number or direct debit.
HMRC suggest checking gov.uk for real info and guidance.
Motorists may be tempted by seemingly cheap insurance deals – especially young drivers who often pay more for their insurance and may be inexperienced in buying insurance coverage.
However, insurance giant Aviva has warned people to watch out for offers from unsolicited or unusual sources – especially if they’re from social media or word of mouth.
“Ghost brokers” pretend to be real brokers offering auto insurance. Policies are bought by legitimate companies but with false information, which is then tampered with and resold – often only when someone claims they realize the policy is not valid.
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 wish to reduce their short break costs, but it is worth remembering that Action Fraud figures show victims of holiday and travel fraud lose an average of £1,868.
Action Fraud suggests checking to see if companies are members of Abta – look out for minor changes to the site you’re viewing, such as others had issues with the company.
Scammers can also try to take advantage of people struggling with rising energy bills.
There have been reports of criminals calling people to get their bank details, claiming to be officials who need them to process community tax refunds to help people cope with the rise in the cost of living.
Go online safely advises people to hang up immediately when receiving such a call.