PEOPLE in Herefordshire are being warned about a scam in which fraudsters offer low-costs loans or free government grants.

Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud reporting service, has received 63 reports about the con.

What the victims are not told is that the money they will receive is actually an advance payment for Universal Credit.

The criminals use the personal information they have obtain under false pretences to make an application in the victim’s name.

After the conmen have taken their “fee” from the advance payment, the victim is then left to pay back the total amount once their repayments begin.

How you can protect yourself:

  1. Never share your personal or financial information with someone you don’t know and trust, especially if it is in response to an offer of “free money” or a “free grant”.
  2. Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff will never approach you in the street or ask for your personal/financial details over social media.
  3. If you have concerns about your benefits, you should visit
  4. If you suspect your identity may have been stolen, you can check your credit rating quickly and easily online. You should do this every few months anyway, using a reputable service provider and following up on any unexpected or suspicious results.