Scams hit highest number on record in 2020 - but more than half of people who fall victim don't report them

·1-min read

2020 was the highest year on record for scams in the UK, new research shows.

The number of people scammed increased more than 66% during the months of July to December, as fraudsters cashed in on the nation's uncertainty during the pandemic, according to Barclays.

The increase was driven by high-value and complex scams, with the highest value claims coming from investment scams (29%) and impersonation scams (29%).

Investment scams mostly involve cloned websites that appear legitimate to the untrained eye.

Impersonation scams involve a customer being targeted and told their account is at risk and then convinced to move their money to a so-called "safe account".

The use of fear and intimidation is a powerful tactic, making impersonation scams the most commonly recorded type by volume (22%) for Barclays last year.

However, a Barclays poll shows that while the number of scams was up, more than half of people who have fallen victim to one (54% of 2,000 people surveyed) would be too embarrassed to report it.

One in three (35%) admitted having already been convinced by a scam, and people are being encouraged to speak out and raise awareness of the issue.

Jim Winters, Head of Fraud at Barclays, said: "With more and more Brits finding themselves the victim of fraud and scams, Barclays is challenging the stigma associated with being embarrassed and encouraging people to speak out about their experiences.

"Don't be afraid to admit to being duped into a scam, when you receive a suspicious email, phone call or text message, never assume it's who you think.

"And most importantly, don't ignore your concerns. If ever in doubt, speak out."