Scams and loan sharks
Watch out for criminals trying to exploit the cost of living crisis.
Beware of texts, emails or phone calls claiming to be from government departments, Gateshead Council, Ofgem or energy suppliers.
There have been several reports of fraudsters trying to trick people into providing their personal or banking details by asking them to claim grants, refunds and other payments.
However, most support payments will be made automatically to those eligible - you won't be invited to apply by text message, email or phone call.
We have compiled a summary of the cost of living scams to help you avoid becoming a victim. These are just the ones we have been made aware of, there are likely to be more, please always remain vigilant.
Email, online and text message scams
Texts claiming to be more from the UK Government suggesting that you are eligible for a discounted energy bill under the Energy Bills Support Scheme with a link to how to apply. Clicking on links or opening attachments on these emails could compromise your personal data.
Tips to protect yourself, family and friends from scams
Scams are not always easy to identify. Here are some tips to protect you and your loved ones:
- Be suspicious of any offer which is too good to be true
- Never feel pressured into handing any over money, especially before receiving goods or services - take a moment to think before you commit
- Use official government websites and refer to 'Contact us' sections of websites to access information and services
- Do not click on links or attachments in suspicious texts or emails
- Never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal, or financial details
- Protect your financial information, especially from those who you do not know
- Never give your bank card or pin number to a stranger
- Always ask for identification from those who arrive at your door without warning. If in doubt call the organisation directly to verify who the person is.
- Confirm requests are genuine by using a known number or email address to contact organisations directly
- Always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats
- If in doubt, don't be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or close the door
Report a scam
You should report any suspected scams to Action Fraud as soon as possible.
Money lenders who aren't authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority are breaking the law.
Even if you're desperate, don't be tempted to borrow money from a loan shark. However friendly and helpful they may seem at first, they're known to take illegal action to collect debts - such as threatening violence.
There are other options. Contact Citizens Advice Gateshead for more information.
Report a loan shark
If you suspect someone is lending money illegally or if you've borrowed money from a loan shark, you can report them anonymously .