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4 Cost of living scams to avoid in 2022

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This content is for information purposes only and should not be taken as financial advice. Every effort has been made to ensure the information is correct and up-to-date at the time of writing. For personalised and regulated advice regarding your situation, please consult an independent financial adviser here at Castlegate in Grantham, Lincolnshire or other local offices.

With inflation now at 9.1% and the average cost of filling up the car now £100, many households are feeling greater pressure on their budgets. Sadly, scammers have been using the cost of living crisis to prey on people – offering false promises of grants, support payments and tax refunds to gain access to personal information.

Below, our Lincolnshire financial planners at Castlegate highlight 4 common scams that have emerged in 2022 – and what to do about them. We hope you find this content helpful. If you want to discuss your own financial plan with us, please get in touch to arrange a no-obligation financial consultation, at our expense:

01476 855 585


#1 Energy rebate warning (Action Fraud)

In May 2022, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that a one-off discount on energy bills would become available in October 2022. This would be £400 for every household (with an electricity supply), with the lowest income households also receiving a £650 “cost-of-living payment”.

Following this, Action Fraud highlighted a scam involving text messages which invite people to apply for a £400 rebate. This preys on fears that you need to “sign up” to get the payment. Yet the government has said that you should receive this automatically from your energy supplier.

Be wary of any message – whether from SMS, social media or another source – asking you to click on a link to enter personal details for an energy rebate. This is likely to take you to a fake, Ofgem-branded website which steals your financial information.

If you think you have been scammed by this, contact your bank immediately to cancel any more payments. Or, call the new 159 hotline from Stop Scams UK.


#2 Fake online adverts

It’s a well-worn tactic by scammers to pretend to be from your bank, a trusted retailer or even a financial adviser. However, technological advances have enabled this approach to become far more sophisticated – making it harder, often, to identify a scam when it is happening.

Google Ads, for instance, allows advertisers – including scammers (who are hard to identify by the platform) – to push websites to the top of search engine results where users might click on them. Fake ads also appear on social media platforms such as Facebook, allowing fraudsters to pose as trusted financial brands – but steal banking details when you arrive on their pages.

Be very careful, therefore, when searching online. If you see an ad offering something you are interested in (e.g. pension advice from a financial adviser in Grantham), then find out the URL (website address) for the company from a trusted source such as Google My Business or the FCA register. From there, you can then type the address into your browser directly and search for the landing page that you originally saw on the website.


#3 Mobile phone fraud

The rise of mobile banking has made it easier than ever before to manage your finances from anywhere in the world. However, it also brings additional security risks which can catch you out.

For instance, banks have increasingly been using “2-factor authentication” (2FA) to keep customers’ accounts secure when mobile banking. This sends a text message to your phone when you sign in, containing a security code. However, scammers can trick mobile networks into transferring a customer’s phone number to a SIM card in their possession (“SIM-swap fraud”) so they can receive the security codes that should be going to you.

A good way to protect yourself from this is to use a trusted “2FA app” – such as Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator. These are tied to your own physical device rather than to your phone number, making the 2FA process much more secure.


#4 Pension liberation scams

Ever since the 2015 Pension Freedoms were introduced, scammers have been contacting people with false promises and claims to steal your life savings. These include:

  • Claiming to help you access your pension pot(s) before age 55.
  • Investment scams offering a “one in a lifetime” opportunity or “guaranteed return”.
  • Get-rich-quick schemes.
  • Fake court summons. This often asks you to download a ZIP file containing a virus.
  • Calls pretending to be from the Financial Ombudsman Service, asking for your personal information.

The first thing to do is hang up the call if someone cold calls you about your pension. This has been banned since January 2019, but fraudsters – particularly abroad and out of the reach of British law – still do it. If a caller claims to be able to let you access your pension before age 55, then definitely hang up – this is a very clear red flag.

Be especially careful when approaching pension transfers. When done with a qualified financial planner, this can often be a great way to consolidate your pensions and make everything more cost-effective. However, it is also a vulnerable process, since a fraudster can trick someone into transferring his/her pension into strange, high-risk investments or fake occupational pension schemes. From there, the money can be stolen and may never be seen again – especially if the funds were moved overseas.

Protect yourself by checking the FCA warning list for fraudulent companies to look out for. You can also consult the FCA register to make sure the business is authorised. Consult a trusted financial planner if you are ever unsure about an investment or pension offer.



If you are interested in discussing your own financial plan or investment strategy with us, please get in touch to arrange a no-commitment financial consultation at our expense:

01476 855 585