Over Three-Quarters of UK Adults Hit by Online Scams

  • More than 40 million UK consumers are thought to have been targeted by digital fraudsters so far in 2022, a double-digit increase from the same time last year.

    Charity Citizens Advice commissioned a poll of over 2000 UK adults back in May, asking if they had been contacted by scammers since the start of the year.

    Some 14% more people than last year said they had been targeted. The most common scams involved delivery/postal services (55%), government spoofing (41%), investment fraud (29%), rebates and refunds (28%) and banking (27%).

    Also popular were online shopping (24%), healthcare (13%) and energy-related scams (13%).

    Citizens Advice warned that fraudsters are gearing up to take advantage of the government’s £16bn cost-of-living crisis package, for example, spoofing energy regulator Ofgem in emails asking for personal details in exchange for the £400 energy rebate.

    “We know scammers prey on our worries and fears and the cost-of-living crisis is no exception. Anyone can be targeted by a scam, and as the purse strings are tightened and financial pressures pile on, it’s more important than ever we recognize the red flags,” argued the charity’s chief executive, Clare Moriarty.

    “By reporting scams and sharing our own experiences, we can work together to protect ourselves and each other.”

    Citizens Advice urged users to think twice if presented with online offers that seem too good to be true, and to take a step back if they feel rushed into making a decision, are asked for personal information or have been told they must pay in an unusual way, such as via gift cards.

    Data released last week revealed that scams delivered via smartphone messaging services have become particularly popular.

    Proofpoint claimed that so-called SMS phishing (smishing) attacks more than doubled year on year in 2021. Aligning with the Citizens Advice data, it noted that delivery-themed scams were the most popular, accounting for 50% of the total in the UK.