We are all very aware of the current rising cost of living and no more so than the Scammers and Fraudsters who prey on the public's emotions with tempting offers of rebates, discounts and prize awards. It is quite likely that these will be on the increase in the coming months.
At over one third of the reported crime, Fraud is extremely high on the number of the reported crimes in the region. Even more worryingly the actual number of Frauds and Scams may well be much higher as many victims are too ashamed or embarrassed to report the crime.
Never be afraid to report any such Frauds immediately to Action Fraud at the contact details at the foot of this message.
Whilst everyone wants to make savings, our awareness must be raised to the many and various, very authentic looking e-mails and texts, as the Fraudsters up their game in light of the current crisis.
For example, Scammers are taking advantage of the cost of living crisis and impersonating energy providers in very authentic looking emails to trick people into sharing their personal details.
A typical example of a current scam, now circulating, comes from British Gas offering an energy bill rebate of £315.
The email looks genuine as it uses the British Gas logo and brand and may even contain the account number
However it is not addressed to the account holder, only the email address of the customer
British Gas will always address you by your full name or surname, and will never ask you confirm or provide personal details via an email
Always check such emails for spelling and grammar errors, and check out the sender's email address to make sure it is, as listed, on the company website or on any invoices you have
Finally, never click on any links within such emails. The email may not ask for cash, but sharing your personal details may open the door for scammers to access your bank accounts
Whilst this is just one example, the tricks and ploys used by Scammers are many and various, as highlighted in previous messages.
Examples of other fake messages circulation at the moment include the following:
An email claiming to be from OFGEM claiming the recipient is due a refund; OFGEM would never make such an offer and the email address of the sender email@example.com is obviously fake.
Phone Calls claiming to be from your local authority asking for bank details to make payments for Energy Rebates or Household Support Funds. Local Authorities will never ask for such details over the phone.
Fake parcel delivery messages claiming to be from genuine Parcel Delivery services, with clickable links to make a payment of a delivery charge or provide personal details – never be tempted to "Click"
A plethora of fake money saving schemes such as food giveaways and fuel gift cards
Finally, as people search for bargains through online second hand sales sites they become easy targets by paying for items which never arrive or even exist. Research the seller first, then try and pay by credit card where possible or select another secure method of payment that protects the payer.
Take Five To Stop Fraud
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 okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
Protect: If you think you've been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.