Research from Citizens Advice Watford has revealed that 79% of people in the East of England have been targeted by scammers so far this year, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to take effect.
According to the new research the five most common types of scams reported within the region included deliveries, portal and courier services (54%), banking (30%), rebates and refunds (30%), government or HMRC scams (27%) and investment or financial (26%).
Prior to numerous households receiving government support to help tackle rising living costs, Citizens Advice and the Consumer Protection Partnership have launched Scams Awareness Fortnight.
Taking place between 13-26 June, the annual campaign aims to create a network of confident and alert consumers, who know what to do when they see a scam.
This year’s campaign is focusing on scams linked to the cost-of-living crisis. Emma Burgham, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Watford, said: “A shocking number of people have been targeted by a scammer so far this year.
“We know scammers prey on our worries and fears, sadly the cost-of-living crisis is no exception.
“Anyone can be targeted by a scam, and as the purse strings are tightened and financial pressures pile on, it’s important we work together to protect ourselves and each other.”
In order to stop more people from falling victim to these kinds of scams, Citizens Advice Watford is sharing five tips to help protect you against a potential scam:
- It seems too good to be true – for example, scammers pretending to be energy companies to lure people into “too good to be true” deals
- You suspect you’re not dealing with a real company or a genuine person – take a moment to step back and double-check
- You’ve been pressured to transfer money quickly
- You’ve been asked to pay in an unusual way – like by an iTunes vouchers or a transfer service
- You’ve been asked to give away personal information such as passwords, PINs or other verification codes.
If you have been scammed, Citizens Advice Watford advises you:
- Talk to your bank or card company immediately if you’ve handed over any financial and sensitive information or made a payment
- Report the scam to Citizens Advice. Offline scams, like those using the telephone, post and coming to your door, can be reported to the Citizens Advice website or by calling 0808 223 1133. Report online scams to the dedicated Scams Action service either online or on 0808 250 5050
- Text scams can be reported to your mobile phone provider by forwarding it to 7726
- Also report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
For information on the genuine types of help available and how you will receive it see If you're struggling with living costs and Grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills on the Citizens Advice website.
For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133.