Public are warned to stay alert to fraud as the majority of people look for opportunities to make money as a result of the rise in the cost of living

UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign is warning people to be alert to potential fraud, as more than half of the public (56 per cent) said that they are likely to look for opportunities to make extra money in the coming months due to the rise in the cost of living.

This could leave some people more susceptible to fraud. One in six (16 per cent) Britons said the rising cost of living meant that they are more likely to respond to an unprompted approach from someone offering an investment opportunity or a loan.

Young people in particular were more likely to be at risk. A third (34 per cent) of those aged 18 to 34 said they are more likely to respond to an unprompted approach from someone offering an investment opportunity or a loan, with 30 per cent saying they are also more likely to provide their personal or financial details to secure the arrangement.

Overall, three in five people (60 per cent) say that they are concerned about falling victim to financial fraud or a scam. Recent figures from UK Finance showed that £609.8 million was lost due to fraud and scams in the first half of 2022.

Criminals always look to exploit situations where people are concerned about their finances, as we saw during the Covid-19 pandemic. With the rising cost of living, Take Five to Stop Fraud is warning of four key scams to be on the lookout for:

  • Purchase Scams – with 42 per cent of people saying that they expect they’ll start to look for cheap deals online if the cost of living continues to rise, they may be tempted by criminals’ ‘too good to be true’ offers. Criminals will often trick people into securing a bargain by enticing them to make a quick bank transfer rather than use a more secure payment method.
  • Impersonation Fraud – criminals convince people to make a payment or give their personal and financial details to someone claiming to be from a trusted organisation such as a bank, government organisation or energy company- for example, text messages claiming to be from your council, offering you an energy rebate.
  • Investment Fraud – as the cost of living rises, 14 per cent of people say that they may consider looking for new investment opportunities in the coming months, including investing in cryptocurrency. In investment fraud, criminals try to convince people to move their money into a fictitious fund or to pay for what later turns out to be a fake investment. The criminal will often promise high returns to entice victims.
  • Payment in Advance Fraud – one example of advance payment fraud relates to loans, with criminals requesting up-front fees for loans which never materialise.

Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: “The rise in the cost of living can be worrying and stressful and for many keeping on top of finances might be a struggle. It’s important for everyone to be conscious of criminals taking advantage of people’s anxieties around finances by staying alert for fraud.

“We encourage everyone to follow the advice of the Take Five campaign – always be cautious of any messages or calls you receive and stop and think before sharing your personal or financial information. Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails or text messages.”

To help people stay safe, the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign advice is to:

  • STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.