A third of people (33%) in the UK have been affected by scams from unsolicited phone calls, new research from charity Citizens Advice has found.
And according to a survey from credit reference agency Equifax, 40 to 60 year olds are the most likely group to have been a victim of an attempted fraud.
Equifax’s research also found that those aged over 55 are most likely to have been the victim of telephone fraud. Of these, one in 10 has lost money as a result of the unsolicited call.
Meanwhile, one in five have been the victim of a virus on their computer or other electronic device. These attacks are designed to hijack computers or other electronic devices and demand a ransom be paid to unlock them. The National Cyber Security Centre and the National Crime Agency warned of these so-called “ransomware” attacks earlier this year.
The government also published guidance on ransomware following the now infamous ‘WannaCry’ malware, which spread through computer networks worldwide in May.Lisa Hardstaff, identity fraud expert at Equifax, comments: “Our research shows that ‘life established’ individuals – those who are settled with several financial assets – are the most affected by unsolicited phone calls and emails which result in fraud.
“This could be because they have the most assets to lose and are therefore an appealing target. Or the fact that they are most likely to report a fraud or scam, meaning there is more robust industry data on this age group.”
Equifax has highlighted the fraud risk posed to older generations to coincide with Citizens Advice’s Scams Awareness Month.
Ms Hardstaff adds: “We think Scams Awareness Month provides an ideal opportunity to highlight the risks posed by scammers who use sophisticated methods to trick consumers out of their savings and personal data.
“We urge people not to give away any personal information over the phone or by email. A legitimate company will never ask for bank details or passwords. By taking simple precautions consumers can stay safe and keep the scammers at bay.”
Protect yourself against scams
With so many people affected by scam attempts and fraud, it is important to be wary of unsolicited phone calls and emails that appear to be from a trusted company. You can also protect yourself using the following tips:
Beat unsolicited phone calls:
- Register with services that block unsolicited phone calls. Providers such as BT have services that block unwanted phone calls, and free-to-download apps such as Truecaller work to block such calls. Many mobile phones now have the functionality to block repeated nuisance callers.
- Never disclose secure information. Legitimate companies will never ask for information such as PIN codes or account details over the phone, so you should never disclose this kind of data if you can’t be sure the caller is genuine.
Spot online/email scams:
- Check the email of the sender. Often a scam email might have an address that appears similar to a major company, but will differ very slightly.
- Be wary of typos. Emails from legitimate companies will very rarely have grammatical or spelling mistakes, and this can be a tell-tale sign of a fraudulent email.
- Don’t disclose in email replies any secure details. Companies will never ask for payment details via email, so when paying for something online always make sure you are doing so through a secure checkout on a legitimate website.
- Never install software prompted by an email. Operating system providers such as Microsoft or Apple will only ever update their operating software on your computer through the App Store or via Windows updates.