Are you too smart to be scammed?

Published by Helen Knapman on 22 January 2018.
Last updated on 22 January 2018

Are you too smart to be scammed?

Consumers could be leaving themselves vulnerable to fraud by thinking they’re too smart to be scammed, according to new research from Take Five.

The fraud prevention initiative – which is backed by financial institutions as well as the government – found that four in five (80%) people said they could confidently identify a fraudulent approach.

Yet a separate test revealed that fewer than one in 10 (9%) who completed Take Fives’ ‘Too smart to be scammed’ test scored full marks when asked to identify scam texts and emails from genuine messages. You can take the test yourself on Take Fraud’s website.  

The findings have been released during ‘Take Five to Stop Fraud Week’, which begins today.

It comes as figures reveal that in the first half of 2017, £366.4 million was lost to financial fraud with a further £101.2 million lost through authorised bank transfer scams, according to banking trade body UK Finance.

The Payments Systems Regulator announced plans to crackdown on payment fraudsters last year. But the Take Five campaign encourages consumers to take their own action by always ‘taking five’ minutes to stop and think about whether they’re being approached by fraudsters, and to confidently challenge any requests for their personal or financial information.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, comments: “During Take Five to Stop Fraud Week we want to spread the message that you should always question any calls, texts or emails asking for your details out of the blue. Stop and think before you give away any information, no matter how legitimate the person sounds – and remember – it’s “My Money? My Info? I don’t think so”. If you are unsure, then hang up and don’t reply and contact the organisation directly on a number you trust.”

Ben Wallace MP, minister of state for security, adds: “Fraudsters do not discriminate – we are all potential targets and even the savviest among us can get caught out.”

Protect yourself from fraud

In addition to taking five to protect yourself from fraud, Take Five has issued the following advice:

1. A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account. Only give out your personal or financial details to use a service that you have given your consent to, that you trust and that you are expecting to be contacted by.

2. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

3. If you’re approached with a request for personal information, don’t provide it. Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number.

See our How to be Cyber Aware hub for more tips on how to stay secure online. 

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Not surprised that only 9%

Not surprised that only 9% scored full marks on the test. Question 6 refers to a second message will be incoming from not a readily identifiable number and asks you to respond it. I think most scam aware persons would either think that is a scam and/or prefer to contact the purported bank/sender themselves via a number they identify with and not the one they are being asked to respond to in the second message. Yet if you choose other than the answer they want i.e. the message and instructions are legitimate, you are marked as answered wrongly.

Surely an unidentifiable number alone should be good enough reason to doubt the authenticity and if nothing else how can it be wrong to err on the side of caution and to contact the bank via your own trusted sources?

Either a poorly presented question or designed to mislead to achieve their desired aim of a low respondee total of 1oo% correctly answered questions.

Incidentally, the test setters, 'TakeFive' website offers no facility to get in touch with them directly to ask the question or contact them on any other matter.