Scams and the Cost of Living

The increased financial pressure many will be facing has put more people into difficult
situations, with many facing issues with debt and being unable to afford essential goods and services. Scammers are likely to exploit these issues, so empowering the public to protect themselves and others from scams will have heightened importance.

There are lots of different types of scams emerging. Some examples to look out for include:

  • Scammers pretending to be energy companies, luring people with “too good to be true” deals in order to steal their money
  • Fake sales representatives selling counterfeit shopping vouchers
  • Fraudsters sending out phishing emails pretending to offer an energy rebate or government support to steal people’s personal information

General Scams Advice

Spotting a scam

It’s important to always keep an eye out for scams. They can and do affect anyone. Here are
some of the main warning signs of scams to look out for:

  • It seems too good to be true – like an email saying you’ve won a competition you
    don’t remember entering
  • Someone you don’t know contacts you unexpectedly
  • You’re being urged to respond quickly so you don’t get time to think about it or talk
    to family and friends
  • You’ve been asked to pay for something urgently or in an unusual way – for example
    by bank transfer or gift vouchers
  • You’ve been asked to give away personal information
  • If someone thinks they might be being scammed, they should get advice immediately. They
    can contact the Citizens Advice consumer service for help with what to do next, and report
    scams or suspected scams to Action Fraud.

How to protect yourself from scams

There are some simple steps people can take to help protect themselves from scams:

  • Don’t be rushed into making any quick decisions. It’s okay to take your time
  • Never give money or personal details, like passwords or bank details, to anyone you
    don’t know, trust or have only met online. If someone pressures you for these, it’s
    most likely a scam
  • Before you buy anything, check the company or website you’re using. Read reviews
    from different websites, search for the company’s details on Companies House, and
    take a look at their terms and conditions
  • Pay by debit or credit card. This gives you extra protection if things go wrong
  • Be suspicious. Scammers can be very smart. They can appear like a trusted business
    or government official, have a professional website and say all the right things. Take
    your time to work out if this is a real organisation. Ask them for ID or contact the
    organisation on a number you know and trust
  • Don’t click on or download anything you don’t trust
  • Make sure your antivirus software is up to date
  • Keep your online accounts secure:
    • Use a strong password for email accounts that you don’t use anywhere else.
      Choosing three random words is a good way to create a strong and easy to
      remember password. You can also add in numbers and symbols. If you’re
      worried about remembering lots of different passwords you can use a
      password manager
    • Some websites let you add a second step when you log in to your account –
      this is known as ‘two-factor authentication’. This makes it harder for
      scammers to access your accounts.
  • If you’re not sure about something, get advice from a trusted source

What to do if someone has been scammed

If someone has been scammed, there are 3 steps they need to take:

  1. Protect themselves from further risks
    There are things they can do to stop things getting worse. They should contact their bank immediately to let them know what’s happened. They should also change any relevant log-in details, and check for viruses if they were scammed on a computer.
  2. Check if they can get their money back
    If they’ve lost money because of a scam, there might be ways they can get it back. Again, make sure they tell their bank what happened straight away. If they’ve paid for something by card, bank transfer, Direct Debit or PayPal, then depending on the circumstances they might be able to help them get their money back.
  3. Report the scam
    • Reporting scams helps authorities stop the criminals responsible, and protects others from being scammed. Anyone who’s been scammed should:
    • Call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133, or on 0808 223 1144 for a Welsh-speaking adviser. We’ll pass on details of the scam to Trading Standards, and can offer further advice
    • Report the scam to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud. They’ll also
      give them a crime reference number, which can be helpful if you need to tell your bank you’ve been scammed.

It’s also important for us to all talk about our experiences with family and friends. By
letting them know what’s happened they can be prepared, and together we can put a stop to scams.

Where to go for more help

  • If someone has been scammed, or thinks they’ve been scammed, they can contact
    the Consumer Service by calling 0808 223 1133 (or 0808 223 1144 for a Welsh
    speaking Advisor)
  • If they’ve been scammed online they can also get advice from a Scams Action Adviser
    (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) on 0808 250 5050 or via webchat.
  • You can also use our online scams helper to work out if something is a scam and see
    the next steps to take
  • There’s lot of advice on the Citizens Advice website at, including how to:
    • Check if something might be a scam
    • Check if you can get your money back after a scam
    • What to do if you’ve been scammed
    • Report a scam
    • Get emotional support if you’ve been scammed
    • Get help with online scams
  • You can check recent scams on Action Fraud’s website, and sign up for email alerts
    to find out about scams in your area at