Staggering scam statistics revealed

One-in-five of us has been targeted by a financial scam via our phones every week for the past two years.

That’s the figure revealed in a recent study from Equifax, the credit reference agency. Here are more staggering scam statistics revealed by the study…

Life has changed for all of us in 2020, but it seems to be business as usual for scammers as 20% of of us believe we’ve been targeted by a financial scam via our phones every week for the past two years – 10% via text and 23% via email.

Scammers using targeted texts and emails

The figures have revealed text and email scams are rife in the UK, and additional findings have revealed that people from London (48%) and Birmingham (42%) have stated that they have felt more exposed to financial scams since the pandemic began.

Although almost two-thirds (63%) of us consider ourselves to be savvy and able to spot a scam straight away, every one of us is susceptible if the scammers get their method and timing right – as we found out all too painfully when we were sucked in by this Amazon £500 voucher scam.

Even so, the highest proportion of people feel understandably angry about being targeted, with a further 37% of us feeling frustrated and 21% vulnerable.

Although it’s natural to assume that older generations are more likely to be caught out by scammers, the Equifax research suggests otherwise, with those in later years spotting scams more successfully:

  • 32% of 18-34s said they spotted these scams
  • 74% of 55-64s said they spotted these scams
  • 72% of the 65+ age range said they spotted these scams

Age is no barrier to scammers

Lisa Hardstaff, Head of Customer Experience at Equifax, comments: “Traditionally it is the older generation that needed protecting from fraudulent financial scams. However, it appears from our research that younger people believed they are less likely to spot a scam. Irrespective of your age, we should all be careful when dealing with any unexpected communications, even if they appear to be from someone, or a company, we know.

“You can no longer identify a fake email by spotting spelling mistakes or if the logo looks wrong. Now fraudsters are very clever with impersonating companies. If you receive a letter or digital offer, and the offer looks too good to be true then it probably is. Always go directly to the company’s website, if the message is genuine you will be able to check by calling the company or checking any online messages when you log into your account with them.”

Sandra Peaston, Director of Research and Development for Cifas added: “We see fraudsters adopting new ways to steal money and information from innocent members of the public on a weekly basis, and during the pandemic these criminals have been increasing the pressure even further by preying on people’s fear and anxieties.

“My advice to anyone who receives an unsolicited call, email or text is take a moment and think before parting with money or information – especially where you are being pressured into acting urgently, because fraudsters don’t want you to have the chance to think. Fraudsters go to great lengths to look and sound genuine, and so question any uninvited approaches – no matter how legitimate they appear to be. Stay vigilant and remember that criminals work quickly and regularly change tactics, so the scams you see today most likely won’t be the ones you’ll see tomorrow.”

The impact of coronavirus

Since the pandemic started, around a third (31%) of Brits said they felt more exposed to financial scams. Those aged between18-34 have felt most exposed, with an overall feeling of financial negativity due to COVID-19.

29% of Brits stated that they have had a negative impact on their finances because of the on-going pandemic. Naturally, this has led to an increase in people looking for ways to save their pennies. A whopping 65% of us have looked for financial deals, with 35% saying they would sign up to offers they saw on social media, as long as they could check a review beforehand. However, 27% said they would jump straight in without even checking.

This could bode well for financial scammers. With 13% of Brits saying their internet shopping had increased by 21-30% since before lockdown, we are online more than ever. When asked if they would sign up to an online discount for a product in exchange for personal information, 39% said no, but a worrying 16% said they would. Providing personal information to get an online offer is more likely to appeal to men (21%), than to women (12%).

Reassuringly, 82% of Brits said their laptop/computer was up to date with the latest antivirus software, with older people most likely to have the most up to date antivirus software. 91% of the 65+ said this was the case, while 67% of the 18-34s said the same.

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