Five Scams To Beware In 2022 – Forbes Advisor UK – Forbes

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Published: Aug 10, 2022, 11:53am
As the UK grapples with its cost-of-living crisis, scammers are taking advantage of people’s increased financial vulnerability.
In June, Citizens Advice warned that more than three quarters of UK adults have been targeted by a scam in 2022 — a 14% increase on the same time last year.
With day-to-day living costs rising, scammers are likely to target those who are struggling, with schemes that run the gamut from impersonating energy market regulator Ofgem to offering fake pension advice.
Below are five common scams rin 2022. 
The UK’s fraud reporting centre, ActionFraud, has warned energy customers of a scam involving messages claiming to be from energy regulator Ofgem.
These fake emails and texts direct customers to a copycat version of the Ofgem website, where they are asked to provide bank details to receive the government’s £400 energy rebate
Ofgem says it never requests details over email or text, and asks any customer who receives this message to report it.
Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at Interactive Investor, said: “It is important to be extra vigilant and be wary of scams amid the rollout of various government cost of living support schemes.
“As we saw during the pandemic, there are no depths unscrupulous individuals won’t sink to to swindle cash from unsuspecting victims.”
According to a poll by Nationwide Building Society, 24% of adults have been targeted by an email hacking scam. During these scams, fraudsters intercept real email invoices and tweak payment details so the customer’s money is diverted to them.
Nationwide’s survey, which gathered responses from 3,002 UK adults, also revealed that 35% of people did not know that genuine email invoices could be intercepted in this way. The average victim of these scams lost £8,500.
To avoid this type of scam Ed Fisher, head of fraud policy at Nationwide, recommends confirming  payment details with the trader you want to pay: “Ring the tradesperson on a number you know is theirs and double check the account details. If anything in the email header looks odd, don’t send the money.”
City of London Police has warned young drivers about the ongoing threat of ‘ghost brokers’ — scammers who sell invalid car insurance policies at unrealistically low prices.
After making a sale, the scammers send their victims fake insurance documents, or take out a real policy but falsify details such as the driver’s age, address, and history to bring down the premium. 
Most victims of ghost brokers don’t realise they have been scammed until they need to make a claim on the insurance policy. 
Ben Fletcher, director of the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) said: “Young and vulnerable people are constantly being targeted online with fake car insurance deals that are too good to be true, and if they fall for them they’re immediately left out of pocket and face having their car seized by the police for no insurance.
“The cost-of-living crisis means it’s never been more important for people to safeguard their personal finances against fraud.”
Ghost brokers tend to canvass victims via social media or word of mouth, so when you need to take out a car insurance policy, be sure to use a reputable comparison site or broker, or go direct to the provider. 
According to the IFB, so-called ‘crash for cash’ scams — in which scammers deliberately cause collisions in order to make fraudulent insurance claims — have also been spreading. 
The most common tactic these scammers use is slamming on the brakes at busy junctions, causing the driver behind to collide with their vehicle.
Tom Hill, detective chief inspector at City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, commented: “As we have seen in the past, a rise in cost of living and resulting financial hardships can often drive people to commit fraud. Unfortunately, this means that the public need to be even more alert than usual to fraudsters, like ‘Crash for Cash’ drivers.”
To avoid scams like these, the IFB recommends maintaining a good distance from the vehicle in front whenever you drive, and be on the lookout for erratic drivers. 
If you suspect you or someone you know is the victim of a crash for cash scam, you can report it to the IFB.
Savers are also at increased risk of being targeted by scammers in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis, The Pensions Regulator has cautioned.
As rising inflation eats into the value of savings, fraudsters are trying to persuade savers to withdraw a portion of their pension fund, which the scammer promises to reinvest for higher returns. 
Tom Selby, head of retirement policy at AJ Bell, said: “Unscrupulous fraudsters will attempt to take advantage of vulnerability through any means possible, from offering ‘early access’ to pensions to pushing dodgy investments promising sky-high, guaranteed returns.
“Offers such as these might be particularly tempting to people experiencing inflation on the brink of double digits.”
To avoid these scams, Mr Selby advises hanging up on anyone who contacts you unprompted to discuss a ‘pension review,’ only dealing with financial advisors who are FCA regulated, and being wary of anyone offering ‘guaranteed’ returns on investments.
It’s important to bear in mind that if you are under 55, it is almost never in your best interest to make a pension withdrawal. 
Unless you are too ill to work, have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or have a ‘protected retirement date’ that stipulates you can retire before age 55, you will be hit with a 55% tax bill on the withdrawal.
To avoid being the victim of one of these scams, Citizens Advice suggests looking out for key warning signs:
If you are ever in doubt that an email or text is legitimate, contact the company the message claims to be from directly. Make sure you get in touch using the organisation’s official channels rather than details provided in the suspicious message. 
Jane Parsons, consumer expert at Citizens Advice, says: “With the volume of scams on the rise, it’s important for us all to take steps to safeguard ourselves and others against scams.”
I’ve been writing for a broad array of online publications for four years, always aiming to make important insights accessible. It’s my goal to ensure that as many people as possible can make informed decisions about their money, and get the most out of their finances with the least amount of stress.

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