Research by The Openwork Partnership shows nearly two out of five adults have been targeted by financial scammers in the past year highlighting the need for increased advice.
The nationwide study found 38% of adults – the equivalent of more than 20 million people – report a rise in financial scam attempts that they, or people they know, have faced in the past year with 17% reporting a significant increase. Just 4% of adults say the number of scam attempts has dropped in the past year. It’s not just scam attempts either, the research found. Around 13% of people questioned say they or people they know have lost money as a result of scams.
The increase in scam attempts is making people increasingly angry – around 45% of those questioned say they are frustrated that authorities such as the police, the Government and regulators appear to be doing nothing to stop scams, while 39% are outraged attempted crime goes unpunished.
Consumer groups and financial services industry groups including PIMFA are urging the Government to do more to tackle online fraud by including paid for online adverts in the new Online Safety Bill going through Parliament.
Analysis by consumer rights group Which? shows around £2.3 billion was lost to online scammers last year with cases of fraud reported to Action Fraud rising by a third to more than 410,000 – with the pandemic adding to the increase as more people went online for more activities.
The research found email is the way most people will be targeted by scammers – around 55% say they have received suspicious emails or know others who have been targeted. However, 52% say they or people they know have been targeted on the phone and 44% by text. Around 7% have received scam letters.
Mike Morrow, Chief Commercial Officer at The Openwork Partnership, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been a playground for financial scammers as more people have had to go online to carry out essential business.
“It is worrying to see the sheer scale of scamming with more than 20 million reporting an increase in attempts over the past year and sizeable numbers saying they or people they know have lost money.
“We would urge people to always take professional financial advice before making major decisions and always report attempted scams where possible.”
The Openwork Partnership research also found 19% of people do not know how to report scams.
People can report scams online at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or by calling Action Fraud on 0300 123 204. Victims of fraud should also report it to their local police service.