As the ‘cost of living’ crisis continues to take its toll on UK residents who are struggling financially, fraudsters will see this as the perfect opportunity to prey on vulnerable customers. This might be because criminals know that people who are struggling financially are often desperate and will be more likely to make rash decisions and fall for scam tactics.
Not only do consumers have to remain on high alert during these challenging times, but so do businesses too. Without access to tools such as a domain monitoring solution, then organisations will struggle to find out if their brand name has been compromised, thus putting their customers at risk as they’ll be more inclined to visit that website that they believe is a trusted brand when in reality it is not. This is especially troublesome during the height of the existing cost of living crisis in the UK.
The cost-of-living crisis in the UK
The high cost of living, stagnating wages, and rising inflation have left many people struggling to make ends meet. This makes them easy targets for scammers and con artists looking to take advantage of their situation, especially since the approximate cost of fraud surpassed £137bn in 2021.
Recently, there have been several reports in the media about people being scammed out of their life savings. Sometimes, people have lost their homes and everything they've worked for after falling victim to a scam.
A recent report recorded that £101m worth of card and payment crime was blocked last year, with investigations into scams and frauds involving bank customers leading to 123 arrests and disrupting the activities of 23 organized criminal gangs. With the cost-of-living crisis showing no signs of abating, it's only a matter of time before more people fall victim to these scams. If you or someone you know is struggling to make ends meet, be on the lookout for signs of fraud, and don't hesitate to report it to the authorities.
How are fraudsters preparing to prey on vulnerable customers?
Fraudsters are preparing to prey on vulnerable customers by researching them and finding as much information about them as possible. They will use this information to target them with specific scams that they think will work. Since the pandemic, scammers have used a variety of SMS and emails to attract people to click on links and supply information that was then used to persuade them to fork over money from their accounts. They may also set up fake websites or social media accounts that look like they are from a legitimate company or organisation. They will then use these to contact people and try to get them to hand over personal information or money. As internet fraud is becoming increasingly common, it is vital to practice caution while sharing personal information online. If someone contacts you don't know, be cautious about giving out any personal information. If you are unsure whether an email or website is legitimate, contact the company directly to check.
What are some tactics used to take advantage of customers?
While fraudsters are resourceful in their approaches to vulnerable customers, we have identified some of the most common fraud categories.
Online purchase scamming
Scammers pose as reputable online vendors, either through a phoney website or a fraudulent ad on a legitimate retailer's website. While many online retailers are reputable, fraudsters might take advantage of the internet's anonymity to defraud naïve customers. Scammers use innovative technology to create fake shop websites that appear legitimate online retail establishments. They may employ sophisticated designs and layouts, maybe stolen trademarks, and even a domain name identical to that of a legitimate retailer. This is precisely what internet criminals take advantage of; thus, it is critical to be cautious while making online transactions.
Emergency fraud is a scam in which the perpetrator contacts the victim posing as a family member or friend in need of money urgently. They may claim to have been in an accident, arrested, or stranded somewhere and need help to get out of the situation. This type of fraud is often difficult to spot, as the perpetrator will usually have some personal information about the victim that they can use to make their story seem more believable. If you receive a call or email from someone claiming to be in an emergency, do not give them any money or personal information until you have verified their identity.
Giveaways on social media
Social media platforms are fertile hunting grounds for scammers. They will often create fake accounts and post about bogus giveaways or contests that require users to like, share, or comment on the post to enter. Fraudsters will also send private messages to users asking them to click on a link to enter the contest or follow a specific account. These links lead to websites that ?steal personal information or infect devices with malware. When users click on these links, it may take them to a fake website that looks like a social media platform. The site will then prompt them to log in with their credentials, which the fraudster can then use to gain access to their account.
Fraudsters are waiting to prey on vulnerable customers as the cost-of-living crisis in the UK continues. The best way to protect yourself is to be aware of the signs of fraud and to report it immediately. By raising awareness of these scams, you will be able to keep more people safe and protect them from losing their hard-earned money.