The UK’s community bank, Metro Bank, is offering consumer guidance about the summer of scams forecast to hit Britain as fraudsters and scammers react to recent health and government announcements.
“Scammers never miss an opportunity to try and defraud the general public,” explains Baz Thompson, head of fraud and investigations at Metro Bank. “As soon as the government announced its support with the cost of living, we began to see reports of scams. This summer will be a prime time for scammers, if consumers do not heed all the advice about what to look out for and be on their guard. To be safe, remember to never click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, or respond to unsolicited messages asking for personal or financial details. If you are being pressured to act quickly, an alarm bell should be sounding in your head, as this is very likely to be a scam.”
Summer of Scams
Energy & Cost of Living Scams
Government Refunds for Cost of Living Crisis
The Government has announced a number of financial rebates to help mitigate the cost of living rises and increasing energy bills. All households will receive a £400 energy rebate. In addition, those on universal credit and other benefits will receive £650 for cost of living increases and those receiving disability payments will receive an additional £150. Pensioners who receive the winter fuel payment will receive an additional £300.
The Government has said that all eligible households will receive their payments automatically, meaning there is no application process. If anyone contacts you – be it phone calls, emails or texts - purporting to be from the council, or the government requesting your bank details to process any of these refunds, or saying there is any application process – these are scammers. Do not click on any links. Report any of this activity to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Council Tax Refund Scam
Properties in the A-D council tax bands will receive £150 towards their energy costs. Homeowners who pay their council tax by direct debit will automatically receive this payment, those who do not will receive a letter explaining how to claim. No consumer should respond to an email or text as this will be a scam. To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
If anyone arrives at your doorstep offering you cut price energy on your prepayment meter – this is a scam and consumers should decline the offer and let the police know that scammers are operating in their neighbourhood. The scammers will offer a cut price deal, for example £50 off a meter top-up for a tempting smaller cash payment. However, consumers will be paying twice, as the scammers are using cloned keys to top up energy credit illegally, so the energy companies do not receive these payments.
Price Comparison Scam
Beware of any phone calls from price comparison websites pressuring you to take a deal that is only available NOW – this is a scammer trying to get access to your bank and other personal details. Do not respond to any pressure to act quickly.
Monkey Pox Scam
Scammers have been impersonating the NHS and sending texts claiming that the recipient has been in close contact with someone with Monkey Pox and demanding they order a test. The aim of this is to steal your personal data and bank details. Do not click on the link. To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Rogue Traders including fake gardeners, roof repairers, gutter cleaning etc.
Be wary of anyone offering services at the front door – such as roof repairs, gutter cleaning, hedge or lawn cutting or people claiming to be gardeners. These scammers particularly prey on the elderly charging exorbitant sums for basic gardening work. If you need help with your garden or home repairs, source good quality tradespeople which have been checked and reviewed on reputable websites such as CheckATrade, The Gardeners Guild or FindALocalGardener.com. Never be pressured to pay in full up front and always get a written quotation for all agreed works. To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Fake Holiday Listings & Rentals
Fake holidays – whether last minute, or late availability cheap flights, accommodation listings or rentals – are a scammers’ paradise. The most common scam is where consumers see a fake caravan/holiday home/camper van/ motorhome listing advertised on social media or any other free ad site. When they enquire about available dates and rental prices, the “owner” will ask for deposit payments - payments that they want paid quickly and in very specific ways to ensure they bypass any built in security protections.
Consumers are advised to use reputable online booking sites and be wary if the price seems too good to be true. To be financially protected ensure that you pay for your deposit and holiday with a credit card or via a recognised merchant service such as PayPal.