Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the Bounce Back Loan scheme to help struggling small businesses get back on their feet after being affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic. However, the National Audit Office (NAO) recently revealed taxpayers could be set to lose as much as £26 billion from fraud, organised crime or default from the scheme. Scammers have been able to steal victims’ personal details by using phishing emails or buying them on criminal forums.

The scammers are then able to set up a bogus business in their name.

On top of this, some victims may not even be aware they have been scammed unless they attempt to take out another loan and discover they have a Cifas mark.

This shows prospective lenders they are vulnerable to fraudulent attempts to take out credit in their name.

Money Saving expert Mr Lewis has issued advice for how people can check their credit score.

This may prove to be a lifeline for people who are unaware they have even been scammed.

He wrote for MoneySavingExpert: “Everyone should take time to manage and boost their credit score.

“It’s no longer just about whether you can get mortgages, credit cards and loans, it can also affect mobile phone contracts, monthly car insurance, bank accounts and more.

“When you apply for credit, each lender tries to predict your future behaviour based on the way you’ve acted in the past. To do it, they look at lots of different data.

“This may include how many applications you’ve made recently, how much you owe, what credit products you’ve had and whether you paid them all off on time.”

READ MORE: UK taxpayers face £26bn bill as ‘bounce back’ loan scheme hit by fraud

“If you’ve a dispute with the information it holds, you need to contact the company that logged the information on your CIFAS file first.

“If you’re not happy with the response, you can ask CIFAS to investigate after you’ve received a final response letter.”

He added: “When you apply for a product, it isn’t just a case of assessing whether you’re desirable, but also checking the application is legitimate.

“So, as well as the credit reference agencies, lenders also use completely separate anti-fraud agencies to try to weed out problems.”

A Government spokesman told “As the NAO rightly sets out in this report, our loan schemes have provided a lifeline to thousands of businesses across the UK – helping them survive the outbreak and protecting millions of jobs.

“We targeted this support to help those who need it most as quickly as possible and we won’t apologise for this.

“We’ve looked to minimise fraud – with lenders implementing a range of protections including anti-money laundering and customer checks, as well as transaction monitoring controls.

“Any fraudulent applications can be criminally prosecuted for which penalties include imprisonment or a fine or both.”

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