A fifth of UK adults have had someone trying to scam them out of money

A fifth (21%) of individuals have experienced someone trying to scam them out of their money, savings or investments. Nearly three quarters (71%) of these realised before it was too late, but 29% of those targeted lost money as a result.

A survey of 2,000 UK adults was conducted by WEALTH at work, a leading financial wellbeing and retirement specialist. It also revealed that even if they haven’t been targeted by a scam themselves, more than one in ten (12%) know someone who has been approached by a scammer, and more than half (58%) of these had actually lost money as a result.

WEALTH at work, has highlighted the common things people say when explaining why they fell for a scam so that people can be aware and avoid losing their money to fraudsters;

1. “They looked so professional” – Scams look and sound legitimate, which is why people are hoodwinked. They often have very professional looking websites and literature that can make it hard to distinguish from the real thing.

2. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity” – If an investment offers the opportunity of a lifetime, employees should be very suspicious. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

3. “They seemed so friendly and knew so much about me” – The people that run scams are clever and may have been able to get hold of an individual’s personal details. Employees should be aware to not let their knowledge and friendliness catch them off guard.

4. “If I didn’t decide quickly the opportunity would be lost” – Genuine advisers will never rush individuals to make a decision. Anything that talks about time limited offers is likely to be a scam.

5. “They said they could help me to access my pension early” – Pensions can normally only be accessed from age 55, unless in cases of seriously ill health. In normal circumstances, if someone promises to release a pension early, they are probably lying and it is a scam.

6. “I didn’t know how to check them out” – Before investing any money, employees should check that the company is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), as if they’re not, it’s probably a scam. The FCA’s financial register can be found here https://register.fca.org.uk/s/

7. “They kept contacting me and eventually I just gave in” – Scammers will use technology and try to contact individuals through various means such as social media, texts,telephone calls and emails. If employees are in doubt, they should ignore it and hang up the phone or delete the message. Phone companies should be able to help by blocking any offending numbers and email providers can help to block emails from specific senders. Employees should be aware of what they share through social media and check that their privacy settings are as secure as possible.

8. “I didn’t report the scam straight away” – If anyone thinks that they are being scammed, they must report it on the FCAs Scam Smart website https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart and to Action Fraud www.ActionFraud.police.uk. Not only may they be able to help them, but they will be able to help others from falling for the same scam.

Watts-Lay concludes; “Many employers offer financial education, guidance and regulated financial advice to help people understand the warning signs when it comes to a scam so that it can be avoided. Employers play an important role in supporting the financial wellbeing of their employees and helping them to protect their money from scams is key.”

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The survey of 2,000 UK adults was carried out by Opinium from 8 – 11 April 2022.