Over 40 million targeted by scammers as the cost-of-living crisis bites

Millions more people have been targeted by scammers as the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, new research by Citizens Advice has found. More than three quarters of UK adults said they have been targeted by a scammer this year – a 14% increase compared to this time last year.

The most common types of scams reported included:

  • Deliveries, postal or courier services (55%)
  • Someone pretending to be from the government or HMRC (41%)
  • Someone offering a fake investment or financial ‘get rich quick’ schemes (29%)
  • Rebates and refunds (28%)
  • Banking (27%)
  • Online shopping (24%)
  • Health or medical (13%)
  • Energy scams (12)%

Ahead of many households receiving vital government help for the cost-of-living crisis, Citizens Advice and the Consumer Protection Partnership have launched their annual Scams Awareness campaign to help people protect themselves from opportunistic scammers.

Citizens Advice has seen a range of different cost-of-living scam tactics used by scammers, including:

  • Emails claiming to be from the regulator Ofgem asking people to enter their bank details to get the energy rebate
  • Asking people to enter their mother’s maiden name to receive a refund on their energy and council tax bill

For information on the genuine types of help available and how you’ll receive it see If you’re struggling with living costs and Grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills

For further information on scams, see common scams and reporting a scam

Case Study

David, an electrician from Elgin recently lost over £1,400 in a sophisticated delivery text scam. David had received a text message purportedly from delivery company Evri saying that an extra charge of £1.50 was required for a parcel delivery.

As he was expecting a parcel, David clicked on the link and was taken to a website with Evri branding, which asked him to provide a delivery address, phone number, card and bank details. 

Later that evening, David was phoned by someone who said they were from his bank’s fraud department and that there had been suspicious activity on his account. The scammer convinced him to transfer over £1,400 to a new ‘safe’ account. 

Fiona Richardson, Chief Officer for Trading Standards Scotland said:

“Scammers are quick to exploit the changing and challenging circumstances that we are all currently facing and in doing so, often undermine legitimate avenues of support.  The Scams Awareness Fortnight campaign aims to bring these scams to the attention of consumers, ensuring they feel empowered to shut scammers down if approached by telephone, text or email.

Anyone can be caught out by scammers especially as the tactics used are getting more and more sophisticated.  I urge consumers never to rush or feel pressurized into responding if contacted and never give any personal or banking details to a cold caller, even if they appear to know some of your details already.

Remember help and support is available, and if you or someone you know has been impacted by a scam you can report directly to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000”

Citizens Advice Scotland Chief Executive Derek Mitchell said:

“Scams are a menace in Scotland, just like anywhere else. People here are only just recovering from the Covid pandemic and have been battered by the cost of living crisis. To have scammers stealing money from people is awful at any time but it seems especially bad at the moment. We urge people to stay vigilant and report any scams they come across. In Scotland your local Citizens Advice Bureau can offer free, confidential and impartial advice.”

Conor Forbes, Head of Business Development and Policy at Advice Direct Scotland said:

“We have seen scammers adapt their tactics in line with major world events, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine.  Scams impact everyone, with scammers reaching out to Scottish consumers through a range of methods, including email, SMS, social media, and even on the doorsteps of their homes.

We can stay ahead of scammers by avoiding sharing personal and financial information with people we are at all unsure of.  When we are contacted out of the blue about financial or business matters, it is important to consider the source of the contact, and whether it is from a legitimate source.  We can check that a claim made by email or SMS appearing to be an organisation we ordinarily do business with is genuine by reaching out to them via official channels.  This would be through their official website, avoiding clicking any links or opening any attachments, or alternatively by reaching out through official contact telephone numbers.”