THE Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has issued an urgent warning to millions of people on benefits over a scam text message.
Fraudsters have been targeting people on benefits telling them to apply for a £750 cost of living payment.
The text said: "GOV: The £750.00 (GBP) Living Payment is ready, take action by accepting the payment via legalaid.income-division.com."
It encourages people to follow a link to apply for a £750 cost of living payment.
This is a scam – if you receive this message or something similar do not click on the link or reply to it.
Following the link could take you to a website asking you for personal information which could then be used to steal money.
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Cost of living payments will be made automatically – you do not need to get in touch with the government or another body to claim it.
A DWP spokesperson said: “All cost of living payments are sent out automatically and directly to those eligible, and customers do not need to apply or contact the Government at any stage.
“If you have had a message asking you to apply, accept or contact someone about the payment, this might be a scam.”
The DWP said that recipients can forward any suspicious messages to 7726 for free.
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The DWP will never request personal information by SMS or email.
It comes as many people on benefits qualify for a bit of extra help as we battle through the cost of living crisis.
For example, more than six million people should have had a one-off £150 cost of living payment paid straight into their bank accounts.
The payment is meant to help with the extra costs disabled people in particular often face, such as care and mobility needs.
While residents in certain boroughs across the country could get free cash through the Household Support Fund.
Councils have been given money which they can then choose to distribute to people struggling to keep up with costs.
Just last week, the DWP issued another warning over a Universal Credit scam that was doing the rounds.
The Government department issued the stark message in a recent Twitter post.
The post explained fraudsters are posing as the DWP asking claimants for proof of ID by passport.
How to spot a scam
Scammers are always looking for new ways to con people out of their money but you can try to stop it from happening first.
One major red flag is if you receive a message from someone you've not been contacted by before or it's someone you don't know.
It might be trying to provoke you into a rushed decision by creating a sense of urgency, or contain grammatical errors.
You can report these types of scam messages through different means.
If it's an email, you need to report it to [email protected].
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) will then analyse the email to check if it is indeed a scam.
If you receive a suspicious text message you can forward it to 7726 for free.
What to do if you've been scammed
If you have already been scammed, you can either contact your local Trading Standards office or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
You can try calling your local Citizens Advice branch who should be able to help as well.
There are also steps you can take yourself to try and stop money being stolen if you've been scammed.
You should change any passwords on the hacked device and also your bank and credit card accounts.
If you think the fraudster has gained access to your bank or other financial details, tell the company or bank those details relate to.
If you've been left out of pocket by a scammer, you might be in line for a refund.
If your bank refuses to offer a refund, you can try going to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
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It is an independent body that settles disputes between consumers and financial businesses and is free to use.
It may be able to get your money back for you, although there are no guarantees.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected].
You can also join our new Sun Money Facebook group to share stories and tips and engage with the consumer team and other group members.
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