Scam watch: Consumers putting themselves at risk by giving away personal info

17 October 2017

Too many Brits are putting themselves at risk of fraud by giving out sensitive personal information.

As many as 6.4 million people have been targeted by fraudsters after sharing personal data, according to a new survey from Phoenix.

The pension provider says 71% have been cold contacted in some way – usually by phone or email, but sometimes in their own home. Of those contacted, 20% have shared their passport number with fraudsters and 10% have given up their national insurance number.

David Powers, head of financial crime prevention at the Phoenix Group, says: “Information is power for fraudsters. The link between cold contacting and scams is very real, and fraudsters will mine the data that they collect from seemingly harmless calls, social media profiles or emails and text messages to scam their victims at a later date. Every piece of data – however big or small – allows the fraudster to build a more complete and accurate profile of their potential victim to make any approach feel genuine.”

According to figures from Financial Fraud Action UK, during 2016 the level of fraud conducted online, over the phone, and by mail order grew by 9%, bringing it to a total of £432.3 million.

However, despite the risks some consumers are exposing themselves to, Brits are by and large worried about their personal data and who is party to it. Just over 80% say they are worried about their data, according to the Phoenix Group, while 90% say they are vigilant with this information.

Only 21% said that they had at times given up personal information without considering the consequences. While a small, but significant, 13%, worryingly said they did not see any harm in sharing personal information.

People are most likely to share their name with fraudsters, followed by their email address. Date of birth is also given up too readily.

The study conducted by Phoenix shows how this information is being used once information has been shared:

  • 52% had been contacted or spammed by email
  • 10% said someone had accessed their bank account
  • 8% said their computers were infected by malicious spyware (which record what you do on your computer)
  • 6% said someone had hacked into one of their online accounts and ordered goods without their knowledge
  • 2% reported somebody setting up a credit or debit card in their name
  • Only 14% said they suffered no adverse effects from sharing information

Mr Powers adds: “With the rise in the number of people that have been scammed as a result of unwittingly giving their data away, we urge everyone to be vigilant against the dangers of fraud and data mining, and to be careful with their personal information.”

He concludes: “We strongly support the government’s proposed ban on pension cold calling, and look forward to working with the government, regulators and industry colleagues to ensure its effective implementation.”


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

One of my friends kept trying to persuade me to put my c.v. out there online just over 10 years ago but I wasn't happy about it. When you think about it, your c.v. gives out of lot of info about you i.e. d.o.b. phone numbers, email address.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

its so easy to slip up these days scammers seem to be everywhere,you have really got to be on the ball not easy for people like me who are getting on a bit

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