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October Records Highest Ever Value of Scams as Over Half of Victims Suffer in Silence


New data from Barclays has revealed a 10 per cent increase in the volume of scams in October compared to September, making it the highest month on record when it comes to the cost of fraud impacting victims.

This was driven largely by the highest volume of impersonation scams Barclays has ever recorded (up 21 per cent) as fraudsters took advantage of consumers by pretending to be from a reputable organisation or impersonating the police.

The latest scams data comes as a Barclays poll found that over half of Brits (53 per cent) know someone who has been the victim of a scam, with a further one in three (35 per cent) admitting to having been a victim themselves.

Yet despite scams being so common, the research suggests that a sense of embarrassment amongst victims still exists. Just a fifth (21 per cent) said they had shared their experience with two other people, with seven per cent saying they hadn’t confided in anyone at all.

When asked why they remained silent, over half of scam victims (54 per cent) pointed to feelings of embarrassment and shame, not wanting people knowing their business (21 per cent), and the fear of feeling foolish (16 per cent).

This is in stark contrast to the victims of other crimes. The research found that Brits were seven times more likely to admit to being the victim of a burglary or mugging than something faceless and silent, such as scamming.

As part of the research, Barclays investigated what awkward conversation topics Brits deemed to be preferable to talking about being scammed. Guilty TV pleasures (66 per cent), our diets (66 per cent), views on Brexit (66 per cent), and even political leaning (61 per cent) were all considered easier topics to discuss than being the target of a scam. A further six in ten (59 per cent) of us would rather talk about an awkward first date than discuss being scammed.

However, a third (31 per cent) did admit that the coronavirus pandemic has made them more willing to have difficult conversations with friends and family.

Jim Winters, Head of Fraud at Barclays said:

“The reality is that an increasing number of us will find ourselves the victim of a scam or know someone who has been. Even more worryingly though, people are disinclined to talk about it. Our research indicated that even when people do speak up, it is often to a very select group.

“Being the target of a scam really is nothing to feel embarrassed about. In fact, far from it, it’s important people do talk about their experiences, in order to make others aware of what’s happening. The only way we can really take on the fraudsters is by sharing our experiences to help protect each other whilst eliminating the stigma associated with being scammed.”

Barclays top tips to help protect against being scammed:

  • If you’re suspicious, talk to someone you trust: If you receive a suspicious call, email or letter, speak to someone you know and trust, such as a parent, family member or friend; particularly if you are being pressured into moving money into an account.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit to being gullible or fooled: Modern scams are very sophisticated and anyone can be a victim: talking about scams can remove the stigma and help protect others.
  • Never assume it’s who you think it is. Scammers can impersonate genuine people and companies. Always phone the person or company back on a trusted number to confirm it’s really them.
  • Don’t ignore your concerns: If you have concerns about a phone call, website or an item, do not give your payment details or be pressured into moving money. Always make sure you complete extra research and read reviews to ensure the person, company or website is genuine. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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