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One in four Britons have fallen victim to a scam since May

scams EMBARGOED TO 0001 MONDAY JUNE 13 File photo dated 30/03/2020 of a woman using a laptop as she holds a bank card. Millions more people have been targeted by scammers as the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, research suggests. More than three quarters of UK adults said they have been targeted by a scammer this year a 14% increase on this time last year, Citizens Advice found. Issue date: Monday June 13, 2022.
Fraudsters capitalise on cost of living crisis to steal £7.9bn from consumers with scams. Photo: PA

A total of 73% of UK consumers have been targeted by scams in the past three months with one in every four falling victim to fraudsters.

Popular scams include fake tax rebates, bogus energy discounts or free holidays, with victims losing on average £581, according to information and insights company TransUnion.

Sophisticated scams have led to more than one in four (26%) falling victim, with total financial losses of £7.9bn since the beginning of May.

Read more: Scams cost victims over £1.3bn last year

Common scams include fake tax rebates that are supposedly from the government (38%), bogus energy companies offering a discount (38%), offers which claim to be from insurance companies promising a cheap deal (37%) and phoney social media competitions offering free holidays (36%).

Fake investments are also common, with scammers using sham endorsements to lure people in. More than a third (35%) of consumers have been targeted by false cryptocurrency schemes promoted on social media, with what appear to be testimonials from celebrities.

“We know fraudsters prey on our fears and worries, and the cost of living crisis is providing them with the perfect opportunity, giving rise to an abundance of scams,” Kelli Fielding, TransUnion’s managing director of consumer interactive, said.

“The average financial loss is £581, which is actually around half of what it was last year, but sadly the sheer volume of fraud and the increasingly convincing nature of the scams means more people have fallen victim, rising from 14% last year to 26%.”

The research showed that consumer are more vigilant, with around half (51%) say the increased cost of living has made them more alert towards fraud.

Read more: Fraudsters targeting students as impersonating scams cost victims £1,457

Nearly one in three (32%) consumers agree banks and finance providers are doing more to warn people about new scams – either by sending out alerts when money is being transferred, flagging the latest scams or building in authentication systems to make them think twice before paying for something. Yet the same number (32%) say more education is needed to help stamp out digital fraud.

Among all adults, close to half (46%) would contact their bank or finance provider if they’d been targeted or fallen victim to a scam and over a third (34%) would alert the legitimate company the fraudster was pretending to be from.

Others said they would report scams to Action Fraud, the police or an industry regulator such as the FCA, Ofcom or Ofgem. Over a fifth (21%) would check their credit report to spot evidence of the scam.

“It’s great to see people are keeping an eye on their credit report for signs of fraud. Your credit information gives a full picture of your credit history so if someone else has fraudulently used your identity to apply for credit, it will be visible here,” Fielding said.

Watch: Phishing scam red flags to look for