Many households are falling victim to fraudsters as the cost of living crisis continues to take its toll. APP (Authorised Push Payment) fraud rose by 30% in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.
As costs rise, fraud is expected to accelerate significantly this year, with criminals finding new ways to scam their victims with fake emails, phone calls, and text messages. Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, is warning individuals to be extra vigilant following a rise in reports of criminals targeting online and mobile phone users.
One of the scams involve criminals claiming to be from a person’s phone provider and offering them money off their bill as a way to help cope with the financial strain caused by the crisis. Unsuspecting victims are then asked a number of questions in order to obtain their personal information to be used for fraud. Cifas is urging mobile customers to hang up and contact your provider if you are unsure if a call is legitimate.
In addition, WhatsApp users have reported receiving messages offering job opportunities with appealing hourly salaries. Once they reply, users are then asked to pay money for work equipment or employment screening checks, as well as provide bank details or identity documents.
“It is crucial that people are extra cautious when receiving unexpected calls, texts, or emails,” says Jack Roberts, Director at Global Investigations, a private detective firm offering fraud investigation services. “These offers can seem appealing, but it is important that you refrain from handing over any personal or financial information.”
Through WhatsApp, criminals are also disguising themselves as financial specialists to gain access to cryptocurrency investment chat groups. These groups are frequently occupied by bots that appear like people and guarantee rewarding returns on little investment, but these promises are simply fake schemes. Cifas is asking people to be mindful when approached with exclusive financial investment offers, and remember that only scammers will pressure you into making quick decisions.
Roberts recommends to crosscheck the FCA’s register for resisted firms and personnel before parting with any money. “It is more important than ever to be vigilant of potential scams during these difficult times. Only by keeping yourself informed and understanding fraudulent behaviour can criminals be stopped from exploiting the public.”
Taking precautionary steps, such as keeping up to date on current trends in fraudulent activity, will help to protect yourself against becoming a victim of fraud. If you suspect a scammer has targeted you, the best course of action is to inform your bank straight away and get in touch with Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.