Three in four people targeted by fraud in UK

Three in four (76%) UK consumers have been targeted by fraud, according to new findings from TransUnion.

While the research indicated that people are getting better at spotting cases of fraud, TransUnion noted that increasingly sophisticated scams mean the average financial loss has more than doubled in 12 months.

Those who have fallen victim to a scam attempt have collectively lost £8.5bn – an average of £1,149 per case – which is more than double £551 from a year ago.

TransUnion suggested the number falling victim to fraud has only marginally increased – from 12% in May 2020 to 14% in May 2021 – but stated that the scale of attempts and the variety of scams is leaving people vulnerable.

Fraudsters are increasingly impersonating well-known organisations, with the most common scams including fake delivery service texts, supposedly from Royal Mail or other providers requesting payment of false charges (56%). Texts claiming to be from organisations such as HMRC demanding outstanding fees (55%) are the next most common, followed by WiFi scams (36%) with supposed broadband providers threatening to disconnect if a bogus fine isn’t paid.

“Scammers prey on consumers in times of vulnerability – such as the COVID-19 pandemic – and this coupled with an increasing reliance on tech has enabled fraudsters to flourish,” commented TransUnion managing director of fraud and ID, John Cannon. “Our research has shown that one in seven UK consumers (14%) have fallen victim, perhaps because they’re acting too hastily, often triggered by panic.”

However, TransUnion’s research also suggested that people are becoming more aware of scams and what to look out for.

The study, based on findings from a survey of 2,000 nationally representative adults, indicated that 79% say they are more vigilant, while the same amount carefully study language used in texts or emails to decipher if they are authentic. Seven in 10 (70%) said they are suspicious of all correspondence from any business or brand.

“It’s great to see consumers are getting more scam-savvy but given the volume of fraud attempts happening at the moment, it’s essential to remain vigilant,” TransUnion managing director of consumer interactive, Kelli Fielding, added.

“What we’re seeing is that whilst the rate of consumers falling victim hasn’t changed significantly, the scams have become more sophisticated and the losses much greater and that’s worrying, particularly at a time when many are still dealing with financial uncertainty resulting from the pandemic.

“However, it’s really positive to note that our survey found more than one in 10 consumers (12%) had been protected by their bank or finance provider, which stopped them losing money after falling for a scam. Consumers need to play their part alongside the banks by knowing what to look out for.”

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