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Targeted Scams Plagued Nearly 45m People Over the Summer

David Paul

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targeted scams
Research from Ofcom has found that, over the last three months, scam calls and texts have increased massively.

The British public is being plagued by an increase in targeted scams, with 44.6m people reporting nuisance calls and texts to Ofcom over the summer.

According to new research, around 82% – more than eight in 10 – said they had received a “suspicious message” either in a text, recorded message, or phone call to a landline or mobile.

Text messages are the most common form of contact, Ofcom said, with seven in 10 people saying they have received a suspicious text. The vast majority (75%) of those aged 16-34 were targeted.

More than 44% of respondents that had received a suspicious contact said they are receiving such a text message at least once per week.

Around 53% of respondents who received a suspicious live phone call on a landline over the last three months also stated they got a call at least once a week.

Ofcom’s research also found that suspicious calls continue to be a threat for landline users, with older people particularly susceptible. Three in five (61%) people aged 75 and over reported receiving a potential scam call to their landline.

Recent research by Which? has shown that this increased contact could cause further mental help issues, after data found that the mental toll of scams on victims is worth up to £9.3bn.

The consumer group stated it is concerned that the negative impact of targeted scams has been “seriously underestimated”.

Which? data suggested that scam emails can cause lower life satisfaction, comparable with being threatened or targeted by thieves.

In the last three months alone, 2% of Ofcom respondents reported following the scammers’ instructions in a message or call, equating to almost a million people, who risk financial loss and emotional distress if a scam attempt is successful.

Ofcom has suggested that victims use the 7726 number to report the calls or texts, but research showed that around 79% of mobile phone users are not aware that the number exists – although 81% agreed that reporting messages is “helpful in preventing people being scammed in the future”.


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Commenting on the report, Ofcom said in a statement that it had been working with telecoms operators to tackle scams and nuisance calls for several years but is “concerned” about the significant rise in scam calls and texts over the last 18 months.

“The tactics used by fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated, which include using multiple communication channels and spoofing well-known companies and organisations.

“We are working closely with industry, police, government and other regulators to ensure strong actions are in place to tackle the threat posed by scam text and calls.

“Ofcom is supporting industry’s work to develop technical solutions, while also raising awareness of the steps people can take to protect themselves.”

Ofcom’s numbers provide a stark warning that these types of calls are on the rise and difficult to combat. However, work is being done to combat nuisance calls, texts, and over-zealous cookie pop-ups.

The UK Government started a consultation on the “data landscape” as part of sweeping changes to the Information Commissioners Office’s M.O. to give them more powers to prosecute offenders.


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David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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