Brits have been ‘impersonation scammed’ out of £130m in 6 months

Fraudsters pretending they are from trusted names like HMRC, Royal Mail and Amazon Prime are reaping the rewards of all their fake calls and text messages: these losses are double what they were for the same period last year.

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Delivery Scam

IPS write about this topic regularly but the scale of the problem is highlighted in these shocking figures from a new report by UK Finance, the trade body for the UK’s banking and financial services sector.

In the first 6 months of 2020 there were 14,947 reported scam cases involving losses of £57.9m.  This year there were 33,115 cases with losses up to £129.4m.

Everyone needs to be extra careful when a call (or SMS) gets through to you supposedly from a bank, a service provider, the police or the government.  Be suspicious of all calls like this.  Think about it,:  How likely is that any reputable body would actually call you these days? Go and look online (or ask a friend) to see if others have reported receiving similarly unlikely ‘calls to action’.  The scam will usually follow a similar pattern. They want:

  • You to do something quickly to protect your account from fraud
  • Act quickly to settle a fine or dispute before the consequences for you get even worse.
  • Respond quickly to correct an error around a refund
  • Pay a small amount (quickly) to receive a delivery

Don’t do anything quickly.  The scams work when people do things quickly without thinking.

Many people have unfortunately fallen for the scam where you pay £2.99 ‘to Royal Mail’ so that you can receive a package.  The payment then triggers a call ‘from your bank’ alerting you a fraud around the £2.99 transaction.  They will ask you to either move your money to another account or confirm your bank account details to stop the fraud.

Of course this is the fraud and bank accounts are quickly emptied unwittingly by you or directly by them.  Now that you know the trick, please remember – don’t do anything quickly.  Take a breath and think before you act so that you don’t add to these statistics.

The Chief Executive of HMRC, Jim Harra, even reported that he took a scam call from someone one pretending to be the taxman!

You don’t need to be polite to scammers

UK Finance go on to highlight that nearly 1 in 4 people admit to finding it hard to say ‘no’ or hang up on an unknown caller.  That’s 19% of respondents who struggle to say ‘no’ to a text asking for personal information and 23% of people who struggle when it is a direct phone call.  Overall 92% agreed to saying ‘yes’ to certain questions from a stranger during one of these interactions so as not to appear rude.

IPS gave some tips on how to practise getting out of these conversations in a recent article.

September hosts a national campaign called Take Five, where the main messaging is to:

Stop, think and challenge requests from unknown callers.

Reporting unusual approaches from scam callers is something everyone can do more about.  We can tell our banks (and the police) immediately to protect others around the country.

IPS believe it should be a lot easier to report AND get feedback on your complaint.  You can read more in our 2021 Manifesto.

Spokesman for Take Five, Tony Blake said:

“Criminals are experts at pretending to be someone they are not and can fool even the savviest of people, who don’t want to seem rude.

“If someone contacts you unprompted and asks for personal or financial information, stop and take a moment to think, even if they claim to be from an organisation you trust.  Only criminals will put pressure on you to act quickly.  Remember it’s ok to say no and contact the organisation through a route you know to be genuine.

“The banking and finance industry works to tackle fraud on every front, through investing millions in advanced technology and working closely with the government and law enforcement to stop the criminal gangs responsible.”

IPS View

IPS advocate for our members and all UK citizens in the same way as the Take Five campaign does.
We all need to act to help each other and force the authorities to do more by the sheer volume of our reporting, which of course reflects the sheer scale of the problem.
We campaign for there to be simpler ways of reporting and more personalised feedback on what happens to your complaint.

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