Cost-of-living scam: Fake government grant scam ‘will throw families into crisis’ | Personal finance | Finance

For one in four UK adults (24 per cent), losing just £100 would send them into serious financial crisis, unable to pay bills, buy food or buy other essentials. Consumer vulnerability is on the rise as we see many more situations and markets that can cause this vulnerability. A study by the Financial Conduct Authority (2018) found that 50% of UK consumers currently exhibit one or more characteristics of potential vulnerability based on their health, resilience and financial capabilities, as well as the life events that affect them. could have a negative impact on them.

That’s potentially over 25 million people in the UK. That was four years ago before the pandemic and everything that followed. With the cost of living crisis affecting people across the UK, criminals are taking advantage of consumer vulnerability and financial hardship. Criminals use government grants to scam people out of their hard-earned money.

The government offers household assistance, but beware of criminals claiming to offer these support programs. These fraudulent emails, calls and SMS come in many different forms and promise financial gain. They often look official and claim to belong to the government or HMRC.

Examples include:

  • Fake cost-of-living subsidies
  • Fake Cost of Living Fund
  • False reductions, rebates or reimbursements of council tax
  • Fake HMRC tax refunds
  • Fake assistance offers to help with Universal Credit applications

Criminals have created websites claiming to operate on behalf of the UK government. Criminals call you offering grants or financial support. You may then be asked to complete an online application form with all of your personal information.

READ MORE: Criminals ‘fatten’ Britons online before emptying their bank accounts

Once criminals have your personal information, they can continually target you with scams. You may also be asked to pay an application fee to obtain your scholarship, this money will be lost.

For more information, see the recently updated Friends Against Scams website. Beware of text messages and emails asking you to click on a link and visit the official government website – do you have to submit a support request or is it paid automatically?

Households in the UK will get a £400 non-refundable rebate on their electricity bills, through the government’s Energy Bill Support scheme. It is therefore not necessary to request the plan. You will not be contacted by the government or Ofgem asking you to share your bank details to claim this benefit. Learn more about government support available at Help for Households.

Did you know? You can easily report fraudulent text messages and emails for free:

Text messages – forward the text to 7726.

Emails – forward the email to [email protected].

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I was completely confused as to what I should or should do to claim the energy refund, I think I may have been scammed.

You could be targeted again. Criminals sometimes contact you again claiming they can help them recover lost money, this is just another scam. Don’t talk to callers who claim they can get your money back for you.

A criminal can steal your identity. If you suspect your identity has been stolen, you can check your credit score quickly and easily online. You should do this every few months anyway. Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via If you are in Scotland, please report Police Scotland directly by calling 101 or Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000. You can also use Rightly to prevent fraudsters from sharing your data leaving you vulnerable to scams.

Tips of the week

Contact the bank. If the bank does not refund, see the toolkit on how to access a refund on the Friends Against Scams website. And, refer a complaint about the bank to the Financial Ombudsman Service

Report it to Action Fraud. UK National Fraud Reporting Center by calling 0300 123 20 40 or visiting If you are in Scotland, contact Police Scotland on 101

Remember: if you have received an SMS that you think is a scam, you can forward it to 7726 or take a screenshot and send it to [email protected]. If you receive a lot of unwanted phone calls or text messages, you may also consider removing your details from data brokers, ensuring that you use a right to object to the processing of your data. You can read more about this on Rightly to stop sharing your data exposing you to scams. And you can take free training on how to fight scams at The more we talk about scams, the more we remove the shame.

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