Laura Suter, head of personal finance at AJ Bell, comments on the latest fraud figures from UK Finance:
“As the pandemic forced everyone to stay at home, criminals had to switch tack and shifted their scamming from physical card fraud to conning people into handing over their bank details over the phone, email or text.
“A total of £355.3m was stolen by this ‘authorised push payment’ fraud in the first half of the year, and only £150.7m of that was returned to the customer – representing just 42% of the money stolen. That means just 42p for every £1 stolen in these scams is actually returned to the customer.
“People looking for lucrative investments were also tricked into handing over their money, with an 84% increase in the number of people being lured in by attractive interest rates only to lose their savings. Recent FCA research* found that people only start to think that an investment might be too good to be true when the promised return is 30% or more, showing how susceptible some people might be to scams.
“The level of fraud in the UK is now so high the banks are throwing their hands up and saying they can’t cope alone. They’re calling on the Government to intervene to drive down the level of fraud, and combine a number of industries to tackle to issue. In particular they are pointing to the likes of Google and other internet giants to help crack down on online adverts that often lure people in to ultimately be scammed.
“Technology means that criminals can very effectively impersonate your bank or the police convincingly, meaning even the shrewdest person can be caught out and lose their life savings. The best thing you can do if you get a call out of the blue claiming to be from your bank or the police is to hang up and call back on a mobile using the number on the back of your card. It’s unlikely that the few minutes this takes will make the situation any worse, and it could save you from being scammed for all you’re worth.”