Warning issued over likely rise in dodgy doorstep energy sellers ahead of price hike next month


Trading Standards is warning everyone across the country to expect an increase in loan sharks and doorstep energy sellers as a result of the cost of living crisis.

The crisis will lead to opportunities for fraudsters to exploit a financially desperate public, especially the most vulnerable, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said. Some of the likely consequences include an increase in loan shark activities and energy tariff mis-selling on the doorstep, alongside other “questionable money-saving schemes”.

The CTSI’s warning follows Ofgem raising its energy price cap by 54% or £693 from April 1, while the Bank of England reported that UK inflation rose to 5.5% in January – the highest rate since March 1992.

The CTSI said the challenging economic environment created a “perfect storm” for consumers.

CTSI chief executive John Herriman said: “The cost of living crisis risks a significant rise in consumer detriment that the UK has not seen for decades.

“The Covid pandemic warned us about the depths some will sink to through the scams that emerged out of it. For the unscrupulous, crises are opportunities to make a dishonest profit from the most vulnerable.”

Local Trading Standards services, working in partnership with other agencies, have continually risen to the challenges of protecting consumers, but this has become increasingly difficult after funding cuts of 50 per cent over the past decade.

He explained: “Gaps in consumer protection are emerging, and whilst trading standards professionals are doing their utmost to protect the public, we are worried about the potential for significantly increased levels of risk.

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“CTSI is in an ongoing dialogue with the UK Government and other stakeholders about how best to protect consumers. These concerns illustrate the need for a consumer protection strategy that recognizes these deep impacts and that will mitigate them as effectively as possible.”

Scots are also being warned not to get caught out by Census scammers as the official count of Scotland’s population begins this week.

woman holding at the door using the old knock door

Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the national consumer advice service consumeradvice.scot, is urging everyone to be aware of the signs of potential fraudsters attempting to gather personal or financial information.

The charity said scammers may request money for a fine or fee, or ask for personal financial information like a national insurance number, bank details or debit or credit card details to be provided.

It stressed that Scotland’s Census will never ask for money or this type of personal financial information.

Advice Direct Scotland said people should only provide personal information in the formal online Scotland’s Census questionnaire, and explained that this will only be sent as a paper copy if the person specifically requests it.

The charity also said Scotland’s Census field team will only visit someone at home after March 20 if they have not completed their questionnaire, or if they have been selected for the Census Coverage Survey.

Colin Mathieson, spokesperson for Advice Direct Scotland, said: “The official Census of everyone in Scotland starts this week and one of the most important things to remember is that Scotland’s Census will not ask for money or personal financial information like a person’s bank details.

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“If you suspect you have been approached by a scammer claiming to be from Scotland’s Census, you can report this directly to National Records of Scotland or to us at www.scamwatch.scot and our advisers will be able to assist you.”

If you suspect you have been approached by a scammer claiming to be from Scotland’s Census, you can report this to [email protected], or Advice Direct Scotland at www.consumeradvice.scot.

If you have made a payment, or provided any personal financial information, you should contact your bank or building society immediately.

Scots can also report suspected scams and suspicious activity at www.scamwatch.scot.

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www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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