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Cost of living scams you should watch out for as criminals prey on struggling households

 

Fraudsters using emails, texts and social media to prey on people

Criminals are piling misery on the vulnerable by targeting them with cost of living scams.

With energy bills set to soar, crime gangs are offering fake discounts on prepayment meters and bogus offers of energy or HMRC rebates, which leave victims even more disadvantaged.

Advice Direct Scotland, a charity which runs the national consumer advice service consumeradvice.scot on behalf of the Scottish Government, continues to see new tactics deployed as criminals try to manipulate struggling households.

It is launching this year’s ScamWatch Fortnight ‘Read Between the Li(n)es’ campaign, highlighting the importance of remaining vigilant - with fraudsters using emails, texts and social media to prey on people of all ages.

Deputy first minister John Swinney said Scottish ScamWatch Fortnight is an “important campaign helping people to read between the lines when they are contacted unexpectedly by someone over the phone, by email or at their front door”.

People are also being warned about investment scams such as cryptocurrency deals, often featuring sham celebrity or expert endorsements, circulated on social media.

Alongside this are bank telephone scams and romance frauds, designed to steal money as well as traditional doorstep scams by bogus callers posing as tradespeople.

ScamWatch Fortnight, which runs on social media platforms until 28 August, looks at scam methods and offers free advice on the ways in which consumers can reduce exposure to scammers.

Anyone who wants to report a scam should fill in the ScamWatch Quick Reporting Tool at www.scamwatch.scot, which collects intelligence to share with various authorities.

Colin Mathieson, spokesperson for Advice Direct Scotland, said: “With scammers using a mixture of methods to target Scots consumers, it has never been more important for us to be aware of how to avoid them.

“We have seen scammers adapt their tactics in line with major world events, including the Covid-19 pandemic and crisis in Ukraine.

“New scams including fake energy rebates are being recorded as scammers try to exploit the challenging circumstances facing many families across Scotland.

“Throughout the campaign, we are highlighting the importance of remaining vigilant and pausing before interacting with emails, text messages or social media adverts.

“The most effective way to stop scammers in their tracks is to report a scam to scamwatch.scot when you see one.

“It’s important to remember there is no shame in being scammed, and consumers who are concerned or need help should contact one of our specialist consumer advisers for free, impartial and practical advice.”

 

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