Scam watch: Three-quarters of Brits have been targeted by phishing fraudsters

5 October 2017

Almost three-quarters (74%) of British adults have been targeted by phishing scams in the last year, with fraudsters using increasingly sophisticated tactics to con their victims.

Research published by Santander shows that 74% of adults have received a phishing email or text message in the last year. Phishing scams are when fraudsters pretend they are from a genuine company in order to steal your details.

The bank says the average person is targeted 16 times a year, meaning there are an estimated 600 million fraud attempts per year.

Some 65% of people surveyed by Santander have received a phishing email, 23% have been targeted by a phishing SMS while 11% have received a fraudulent phone call.

Around 7% of people say they believed the messages they received were trustworthy and subsequently fell victim to fraud. Some had their identities stolen, others saw money withdrawn from their accounts and some victims had fraudulent payments made on their credit cards.

Young people are more at risk of fraud than other age groups, according to the survey findings. Those aged between 25 and 34 are most likely to be victims of scam artists, while those aged between 18 and 24 are most likely to believe fraudsters are genuine.

Of those aged 18 to 24, 39% have believed a phishing email, text or call to be genuine versus an average of 27% across all age groups.

‘Phishing emails have evolved’

Reza Attar-Zadeh, head of customer experience at Santander, says that scammers are using increasingly sophisticated techniques.

“Phishing has been around for a number of years, originating with emails that were unsophisticated and obviously fraudulent,” he says.

“However, today phishing emails have evolved. They can appear in inboxes as convincing and genuine communications from consumer brands, but there are signs to look out for such as spelling mistakes, generic greetings rather than your name and suspicious looking email addresses.”

Santander has offered three top tips to help avoid fraud:

  • Never enter your online banking details after clicking on a link in an email or text message.
  • Never share your passcodes, PIN or online banking password with another person, not even bank staff.
  • Never download software or let anyone log on to your computer devices remotely during or after a cold call. 

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