A record number of scams were recorded in the UK last year, according to figures published by Barclays.
The banking giant recorded a particularly large growth in the amount of victims scammed in the second half of 2020, up by 66% compared with the first six months. This was fuelled by high value and complex scams, with fraudsters seeking to take advantage of the panic and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The analysis found that the types of scams resulting in the highest value claims were investment and impersonation (both 29%). Investment scams normally involve the use of cloned webpages that look legitimate, while in impersonation scams, victims are tricked into believing their account is at risk and end up moving their money into a supposed ‘safe account’. Impersonation scams were also the most commonly recorded by Barclays, representing 22% of all incidents.
Despite the increasing prevalence of fraud, with over a third (35%) of Brits admitting they have fallen victim to a scam, there is a significant reluctance to report incidents. According to the poll by Barclays, over half (54%) of those who have been scammed are too embarrassed to report the crime. The bank said that sharing stories to enable others to know what to look out for is crucial in fighting against fraud.
Jim Winters, head of fraud at Barclays, said: “With more and more Brits finding themselves the victim of fraud and scams, Barclays is challenging the stigma associated with being embarrassed and encouraging people to speak out about their experiences.
“There are actionable steps you can take to help protect yourself against being scammed. If you’re suspicious, talk to someone you trust. Don’t be afraid to admit to being duped into a scam. When you receive a suspicious email, phone call or text message, never assume it’s who you think. Most importantly, don’t ignore your concerns. If ever in doubt, speak out.”
To help encourage more victims to speak out, Barclay’s has partnered with well-known lexicographer and star of the TV show Countdown, Susie Dent.
Dent commented: “There are plenty of things that people could find embarrassing. Being mocked by some of Britain’s top comedians on national television could be one of them, or publishing a book full of spelling errors could be another, but being a victim of fraud and scams shouldn’t be. Through talking about our experiences, we can work to remove the harmful stigma and embarrassment that comes from being duped.”