The UK Finance trade association has discovered an increase in online scams throughout 2020, including identity theft and investment fraud.
He said criminals were exploiting people’s fears about the covid-19 pandemic to swindle them out of their life savings and retirement.
According to the association, identity theft scams nearly doubled last year to 39,364 cases, making it the largest increase in scams of any kind.
Scammers claimed to offer government support to those affected by the virus and sent fake texts demanding payment to reserve a vaccine, and posed as delivery companies to take advantage of the surge in online shopping during the various blockages.
Reports of investment scams rose 32% in 2020, with losses from such fraudulent activities increasing 42% to £ 135.1million ($ 186.3million, $ 156.7million). ‘euros).
“Use extreme caution”
Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, said: ‘In a year when the coronavirus and the nationwide lockdown led to increased vulnerability in the UK, the surge in scams was predictable but shocking nonetheless.
“Investment scams in particular are on the rise, with fraudsters targeting people of all ages – and especially those over 55 who can access their pension funds – with wacky return offers.
“In reality, of course, these returns often don’t materialize and in many cases the underlying investment just doesn’t exist.
“If you are tempted by an online offer of this nature, or if you are contacted out of the blue by someone you do not know about your pensions and investments, be extremely careful and make sure you do not not hand over your money without verifying that you are dealing. with a regulated organization in good faith.
“If you don’t, your money could be stolen and your retirement dreams could go up in smoke. “
Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, added: “We are seeing a worrying increase in online and technology-based scams that evade banks’ advanced security systems and use digital platforms to directly target financial institutions. victims, prompting them to give them money or information.
Selby and Worobec believe now is the time to pass legislation to protect savers from these savvy criminals.
Worobec said it was possible in the next online security bill “to ensure that online platforms take steps to protect customers by removing fraudulent search engine ads, removing fake profiles on online dating sites and tackling fraudulent content on social networks. “
“It cannot be fair that online businesses actually profit from fraud when society as a whole pays the price.”
Selby, on the other hand, believes the UK government should create a post for a “Minister for Fraud Prevention” given the scale of online financial fraud.
“More than half of the UK’s adult population – 27.7 million people – have characteristics of vulnerability, including poor health, low financial resilience or recent negative life events,” he said.
“Covid-19 has also had a severe impact on the financial resilience of Britons, with more than a quarter of adults labeled as having ‘low financial resilience’ by the FCA. Unfortunately, this uncertainty and distress is like trouble. catnip for crooks, who are using increasingly sophisticated tactics to prey on vulnerable people.
“The political response to this ever-present but evolving threat is often piecemeal, in part because the issues cut across different areas of government. The decision not to include financial scams in the online safety bill, for example, has sparked understandable disbelief from activists.
“With the increasing incidence of scams, we believe there is a strong case for creating a scam prevention ministry. This would ensure direct ministerial responsibility to tackle the epidemic of scams, ensuring that interventions are targeted in the right areas and help bring together thinking between different departments. “