Scammers prey on fears over the cost of living crisis

This article is the latest part of the FT’s Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign

When Wayne Chapman received a text informing him of fraudulent activity on his current account last September, his first thought was to ring his bank.

But before he could do so, someone had called him. They told him they were from the fraud squad and had spotted unusual activity on his account.

“If they’d asked me about my account number I would have twigged sooner — they were just saying ‘there are people trying to access your money’,” says Chapman, a car mechanic. “But as soon as I said ‘Can I take your name and call you back,’ their tone changed entirely.”

The scammers took £2,000, although TSB, Chapman’s bank, refunded the full amount.

The UK faces an “epidemic of fraud”, according to financial services trade body UK Finance and more than 140,000 calls have been made to a scam helpline since it was set up in September by Stop Scams UK, an industry-led collaboration.

During the pandemic, criminals adapted their methods to exploit victims’ fears over coronavirus, and are now finding new avenues of attack in the cost of living crisis. Yet campaigners and the financial services industry are concerned that flagship policies proposed to beat fraud are being delayed by political uncertainty at the heart of government.

“Consumers desperately…

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