Cost of living payment scams

Laptop with a warning symbol indicating an online scam.

The DWP won’t contact you about cost of living payments, so be wary of any messages or calls about them. It could be a scam.

Scammers are always looking to exploit well-meaning schemes, and the cost of living payment is no different.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) makes cost of living payments to eligible people automatically. As such, there’s no action to be taken, and you won’t be contacted by anybody at the department. Least of all asking for personal information.

Read how to spot a scam to familiarise yourself with the telltale signs, and for what to do if you suspect you’re being targeted by a scammer.

What is the cost of living payment scam?

Three payments are being made to eligible UK households to help with the cost of living. These are £300 instalments – £900 in total. The first was made in spring 2023, the second payments are made between 31 October and 19 November 2023, and the unconfirmed third dates will be in spring 2024.

The scam aims to capitalise on people’s anticipation of the payments, and might take one of the following forms:

  • Email
  • SMS or direct message
  • Cold call
  • Fake web advert

The message is likely to tell you that you may be eligible for a payment, asking you to register with them. However, it actually seeks to gain your personal information, in an effort to defraud you. You may be asked for your bank details, for example.

In an email or message, this may take the form of a link you’re asked to follow. This will take you to a page that will resemble the DWP or other official website, but is actually controlled by the scammers.

It should go without saying that you shouldn’t engage with unsolicited contact. If you’re being rushed or pressured in any way, it’s almost certainly a scam. If it’s a cold caller, hang up. If it’s a message, block it and report it.

How to protect yourself from scams

If you’re ever contacted unexpectedly by someone claiming to be from an organisation, it’s best to go to the organisation directly.

This means hanging up if it’s a call, and not replying if it’s a message. Nor should you use numbers or addresses in the message. Go to the organisation’s official website, or call its business number.

Legitimate organisations will never ask you to supply personal information via an email or direct message.

If you’ve received an email that you suspect is a scam, you can forward it to [email protected].

What to do if you think you’ve fallen foul of a scam

  • If you think you may have been scammed, contact your bank immediately. This will hopefully avoid your account being compromised.

  • Most of the larger banks are part of the Stop Scams UK scheme, so call the 159 hotline. You can see which banks are signed up here. If your bank isn’t on the list, contact them directly to report the suspicious activity.

  • After speaking to your bank, report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

  • Get in touch with Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 if you’re based in Scotland. You can also report scams via the police’s 101 line.

  • Online scams can be reported to the Advertising Standards Authority.

  • For further advice and support, contact Citizens Advice in England and Wales, or Citizens Advice Scotland.

  • You can also contact the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which has a support helpline on 0800 111 6768.

Get help if you’re struggling

If you’re struggling with making gas or electricity payments, you should get help with your energy bills. You can also see which energy companies may be offering hardship grants for those in energy debt.