1 in 10 Britons fall victim to scams or identity theft in 12 months, with the total amount of loss estimated at £7.5bn, according to a recent Global Anti-Scam Alliance (GASA) survey, conducted in association with Cifas. The survey involved 2,000 British citizens and produced some alarming numbers, highlighting the need for vigilance and preventative action.  

62% of respondents indicated that they had received scam messages at least once per month, with 53% acknowledging a significant rise in scam encounters over the past year. 

Mike Haley, CEO of Cifas, said: “Scams have now reached an unprecedented level, with criminals and career fraudsters constantly looking for new opportunities to trick UK citizens and cause significant distress to victims. In 2022, Cifas members recorded over 409,000 cases of fraudulent conduct to our National Fraud Database as criminals took advantage of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis to steal identities and take over customer accounts.”

“UK consumers continue to find themselves increasingly targeted by phishing and smishing campaigns offering financial help or investment opportunities, employment scams, fake adverts for rental properties as well as purchase and delivery scams. So now more than ever, we need to ensure there is more, effective regulation of online platforms and recognise the serious harm that their fraudulent content is causing to consumers.” 

The persistence of spam messages and calls

As digital portals become the hotbeds for deceptive practices, email platforms like Gmail and Outlook are used to facilitate fraud, with 64% of participants receiving scam messages through these services. Meanwhile, scam attempts through phone channels are reported by 56% of the survey participants. The breadth of scammers’ activities is reflected in the variety of tactics employed, ranging from phishing to the infamous ‘Advance Fee’ scams, leaving individuals vulnerable to an average of 1.6 scams per victim. 

It would be an oversimplification to sum up these thefts as just financial damage. They also inflict severe emotional and psychological trauma on victims. 46% experienced a ‘strong to traumatic’ emotional impact, often exacerbated by the betrayal of trust and the invasion of privacy. 

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