NatWest have issued an urgent warning against energy discount phishing as a pensioner was scammed out of £25,000. Action Fraud says it has received reports of hundreds of different scams about energy support alone.
Diane Jones was sent a text message telling her to claim her £400 energy discount.
As she receives disability benefit, she assumed the £400 payment was connected.
But almost as soon as Diane, 65, entered her bank details, she realised she was a victim of fraud and contacted her bank.
She said: “I’d been rushing around that day and just clicked on it when it came on my phone.
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“My mind was in a muddle. As soon as I did it, I realised I shouldn’t have done.”
Households across the UK are being given £400 off their energy bills to help with rising costs, but it is automatically applied to their bills and is not something people need to apply for.
During the week, she was contacted by someone purporting to be from the bank’s fraud team, she assumed they were following up on the earlier scam.
The man persuaded Diane that her account had been compromised and she needed to transfer her money to a new bank account, via an app which he asked her to download.
That was just one of the key messages shared with NatWest Premier customers at a recent event on fraud.
Panellist Paul Maskell, fraud and cybercrime Manager at UK Finance, said it was important to “stop, take a breather and be mindful” when receiving a text, email or phone call asking you to do something.
He told the audience: “Fraudsters play on our emotions, and they’re very, very good at providing the right context. We saw it during Covid, with scams around the NHS and business loans. And now, with the cost of living crisis, we’re seeing it again, with scams directed at people trying to get more from their money.
“They often tell you something you really want or need to hear, at the exact time you need to hear it.”
He stressed that, although almost 90 percent of all fraud is now online or through a phone call, it’s still not about technology, it’s about feelings.
Mr Maskell talked through five key tactics used by scammers:
- Context – such as the Covid or cost of living crisis
- Authority – they’ll say they’re from your bank, the police or similar organisation as, instinctively, we trust authority
- Urgency – they’ll apply pressure by saying you have to do something fast
- Scarcity – you may hear talk of a ‘limited time offer’ that’s ‘just for you’
- Emotion – feeding on how we feel when we see their message.