Cost of living scams

1 November 2022

3 min read

Fraudsters are always updating their tactics to make their scams more believable, and often use difficult situations, such as the cost of living crisis, to take advantage of peoples’ worries. Whether the cost of living rising is impacting your household directly or you’re looking for new ways to save money, fraudsters are using the cost of living crisis as a prime opportunity to target the public.

Latest cost of living scams

The cost of living crisis continues to dominate news headlines in the UK. As many people are trying to find ways to keep costs down, fraudsters are using scams that appear to offer ways to help reduce your bills.

Posing as someone you trust

Some fraudsters may pose as a company or official organisation you trust.

Posing as energy suppliers or the Government

Fraudsters can pretend to be an energy company or Government agency. They can also make it look as though it’s really this organisation contacting you, for example, by making a Government agency’s name appear on screen when you receive a call.

If you’re suspicious of who you are being contacted by, try using a different phone to call the number you find on their official website.

Energy bill reduction schemes

There are several bill reduction schemes on offer this year, which have been well publicised. It can be confusing keeping up with who’s eligible for each scheme and how they work.

Fraudsters might contact you offering a discount or refund on your energy bills. Or they might say that you owe them money and threaten you with legal action or prison. If they ask you to confirm some details before proceeding— stop, this is a scam.

The Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS) involves each household getting £400 in energy bill discounts this winter. Your energy supplier will automatically apply the discount to your bills or send it to your bank account, or send you vouchers if you have a prepayment meter. You don’t need to do anything.

No organisation will need to contact you about the discount. If someone contacts you about the EBSS, or any energy refund or deal, don't click on any links, fill in any forms or give out any personal information.

Check the website for more information on the EBSS.

Posing as friends or family

Fraudsters can pretend to be a friend or family member when messaging you through text messages, emails, WhatsApp or social media. They might take control of your friend or family’s account, or make it look as though it’s your friend or family member contacting you.

They might ask you to lend them money to help them with their money worries or ask you to send your financial details. For example, they may claim to want to help you apply for an energy discount.

Try contacting them another way – it’s best to try calling them, but otherwise try using a different app or method contact to which you were contacted on.

Fake retirement offers

You may be considering withdrawing your pension earlier than planned. Fraudsters often use pension scams into tricking victims with false promises of a better lifestyle in retirement, or, with more money through hard times. They’ll use fake adverts and offers of free pension reviews, guaranteeing you better returns on your pension savings. These offers are too good to be true and are a way for criminals to try to access your retirement funds.

To check if an investment or pension opportunity you’ve been offered is genuine, check the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) warning list.

Fake loan websites

Fraudsters are setting up fake loan websites, often with low interest rates. They might be offering to help you cover higher living costs or pay for a product they’re trying to convince you to buy. They'll say you need to pay an admin fee before they can release the money. This is a scam.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) maintains a list of companies offering loans. You can search for a loan company on their Financial Services Register.

Offers and discounts

Fraudsters might try to sell you real products which they claim will greatly reduce your energy bill, such as gadgets or home improvements, but they might not reduce your energy use at all. You may not need the home improvements and the gadgets may even be dangerous.

When looking for retail offers and discounts, remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Use discount websites that you know and trust, and go to their website by typing their web address in rather than using a search engine.

Getting your information

The way fraudsters try to get your financial information can vary. They might:

  • Ask directly for your card details – for example, by directing you to a fake website
  • Try to get enough information to pretend to be you – for example, by getting details from your ID documents or answers to your security questions.


  • If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is
  • Be vigilant whenever anyone contacts you unexpectedly and asks for sensitive financial information
  • If you’re not sure whether someone who contacts you is really who they say they are, try contacting that person or organisation using a different method
  • Do not feel pressured by anyone saying they need you to act urgently
  • You can ask someone else for advice about whether it might be a scam.

Support and advice

If you're struggling with money, try talking to your bank. Many banks offer support and advice, and can explain what will happen after you take any action. They shouldn’t use what you discuss against you – it’s up to you to decide what to do next. You can ask them to confirm this if you’re worried about it.

Are you experiencing money worries? Find out ways we can help by visiting our Money Management Hub.

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