Loan sharks and scammers could target vulnerable people as cost of living crisis rages

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More loan sharks and home energy sellers are likely to plague UK consumers due to the cost of living crisis, Trading Standards has warned.

The crisis will open the door for fraudsters to exploit financially desperate audiences, especially the most vulnerable, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has said.

Among the likely consequences were an increase in loan sharking and door-to-door energy tariff gouging, as well as other “dodgy savings schemes”.

The alert follows Ofgem raising its energy price cap by 54% or £693 from April 1, while the Bank of England reported that UK inflation had risen to 5, 5% in January – the highest rate since March 1992 creating a “perfect storm” for consumers.

CTSI chief executive John Herriman said: “The cost of living crisis is likely to lead to a significant increase in consumer detriment that the UK has not seen for decades. The Covid pandemic has warned us of the depths to which some will sink through the scams that have emerged. For the unscrupulous, crises are opportunities to take dishonest advantage of the most vulnerable.

“Local trading standards departments, working in partnership with other agencies, have continually met the challenges of consumer protection, but it has become increasingly difficult after 50% funding cuts over the past decade.

“Gaps in consumer protection are emerging, and while trading standards professionals are doing all they can to protect the public, we are concerned about the potential for significantly increased levels of risk.

“CTSI is in constant dialogue with the UK government and other stakeholders on how best to protect consumers. These concerns illustrate the need for a consumer protection strategy that recognizes these profound impacts and will mitigate them as effectively as possible.

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