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Watch out for the latest scams

This week's column by Senior Debt Advisor, Daniel Bebbington highlights what to watch out for and how to report the latest scams.

The coronavirus pandemic has often brought out the very best in people and society – but upsettingly, it's also brought criminals and lowlifes out of the shadows to prey on our pockets.

Action Fraud has reported that millions have been lost to coronavirus-related scams since.

It can be hard to tell if something is a scam - that’s why they work. Fraudsters are cunning and adapt quickly to convince you into parting with your money.

Here are some of the latest scams to keep an eye out for:

Energy scams

People on pre-payment meters are offered "cut-price energy", according to Action Fraud. People are offered a cut-price deal on their doorstep, for example £50 of electricity meter top-up for a cash payment of just £25. But criminals are using cloned keys to top up energy credit illegally and energy companies do not receive payment for energy used, and the customer ends up paying for the energy twice – first to the fraudsters and then to their energy company.

There’s also been reports of people receiving emails from their energy company, allegedly offering a refund. It is a convincing email, but it is fake. Always contact your energy supplier if you’re unsure – and never click on any links if you think the email is suspect. It’s always good to check the email address that it’s come from.

Council Tax rebate

A number of local councils have received reports that some residents have been receiving phone calls and emails for their bank details so the council tax £150 rebate can be paid.

Your council will never request your bank details in this way. If in doubt – get in touch with your local authority to check.

Fake Ukraine fundraisers

Action Fraud has received 196 reports of bogus requests to fundraise for victims of the crisis, reports the BBC.

Scammers use a variety of methods to con donors, including selling charity T-shirts. Action Fraud has shared advice about how to detect the scams:

  • Never click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails or respond to unsolicited messages asking for personal or financial details - even if they are in the name of a charity.
  • To donate online, type in the address of the charity website rather than clicking on a link.
  • Be cautious when donating to an online fundraising page - fake ones are often badly written or contain spelling mistakes.

Anyone who has given out their personal information to a caller they now think was a fraudster should contact their bank immediately.

To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

26th April 2022