Have you ever been called by a scammer?

Instances of scam approaches are on the rise, and new research has shown that two-thirds of adults have been on the receiving end of a scammer since the start of the year.

  • The research from Citizens Advice found that an estimated 36 million people have been targeted by a scammer since January.
  • Over-55s are the most likely to be targeted, but under 35s are the most likely to fall victim to a scammer, according to the research.
  • The charity found that younger people were most likely to be targeted via a text or messaging service, with 61% of scam approaches to younger people using these channels.

This also relates to how susceptible younger people can be to a scammer and the risks that younger people are taking-Read more about how younger people are also taking big financial risks

The over-55s are most likely to be approached by scammers via the phone, at 73% of scam approaches.

When scammers target people, 54% are about fake deliveries or parcels, 41% are from someone pretending to be from the government, and 12% are from someone offering a phoney investment or a rich quick scheme.

Data from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service confirmed earlier reports of a sharp increase in scam activity. When looking at the first five months of 2021 and comparing this to the same period a year earlier, scams reported to the charity more than doubled.

Scam approaches via unsolicited emails rose by 667% this year, and scams via telephone calls increased by 60%.

Citizens Advice sees many different scam tactics, including an elderly man who transferred £240,000 to a bank account controlled by scammers, a young woman who lost £2,000 to a fake cryptocurrency platform after being messaged from a friend’s hacked social media account, and a woman who lost £750 to a bogus dog breeder.

Citizens Advice and the Consumer Protection Partnership have launched an annual Scams Awareness campaign to encourage people to report scams, share their experiences and look out for others.

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“From fraudulent get rich quick schemes to dodgy texts, opportunistic scammers continue to prey on even the savviest of consumers. Our research shows that when it comes to scams anyone can be targeted, and anyone can be tricked.

“It’s more important than ever we all do our bit to report scams when we see them to help protect ourselves and others. By learning how scammers operate, and helping each other understand what to look out for, we can all work together to stop fraudsters in their tracks.“

Paul Scully, Consumer Minister, said:

“As these figures show, absolutely anyone can be the victim of a scam. Criminals don’t care who they’re scamming, as long as they get what they want.

“You might think you’re really tech-savvy, but we’re now seeing scams so convincing they’d give a computer programmer pause for thought.

“The best way to protect ourselves from scams is to dispel the myth that only a certain type of person is at risk, share experiences, and report suspected scams to Citizens Advice and Action Fraud.”

As ever, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Suppose you suspect you have fallen victim to a scammer. In that case, it’s essential to tell your bank or card company immediately, especially if you have handed over any financial information or made a payment.

You can report scam text messages to your mobile phone provider by forwarding the message to 7726. You can also report scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.