More than £1.3 billion was stolen by scammers last year, with fears that the current cost of living crisis will fuel a surge in criminals attempting to part people from their cash.
Latest figures from UK Finance show that unauthorised fraud and authorised push payment (APP) fraud resulted in the biggest losses, with victims unwittingly losing £730.4m and £583.2m respectively to these types of scams.
Unauthorised fraud occurs when transactions are carried out by a criminal without the victim’s knowledge or consent. For example, a fraudster might obtain their victim’s card details and then use these details to buy goods. The victim may only become aware of this when they check their bank statement or are alerted by their bank about suspicious activity on their card.
Authorised push payment fraud, meanwhile, happens when a customer is tricked into transferring money or authorising a payment to a criminal, who is usually impersonating a trusted organisation such as the NHS, HMRC or their bank.
According to research by financial wellbeing and retirement specialists WEALTH at work, a fifth (21%) of individuals have experienced someone trying to scam them out of money. Nearly three quarters (71%) of these realised before it was too late, but 29% of those targeted lost money as a result.
Jonathan Watts-Lay, director of WEALTH at work, said: “Scamming is rife and people are only going to become more vulnerable as prices rise and as the strain on household finances worsens. Fraudsters don’t think twice about scamming people out of their hard-earned money, so it is more important than ever to be on your guard.”
Watch out for holiday scams
The next few weeks are likely to see fraudsters try to take advantage of people booking last minute summer holidays, so make sure you don’t rush into booking a bargain break without checking if it’s legitimate.
Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and scams, says it received 4.244 reports of holiday scams in 2021/22, an increase of over 120% compared to the previous financial year. The average loss per victim was £1,868.
Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud said: “When booking a holiday here or abroad, it’s so important to do your research before handing over any money or personal details. Trust your instincts and remember, if a deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is.”
Victims are often defrauded by criminals advertising accommodation that doesn’t exist, or because they book holidays through fraudsters impersonating travel companies, including clone comparison websites and airline websites.
If you’re not sure whether a holiday company you’re booking through is legitimate, check whether the company is an ABTA Member. If you’re not sure, you can find out whether they belong to ABTA by checking on the ABTA website.
Graeme Buck,, director of communications at ABTA said: “Over the years ABTA has seen the damage caused by travel fraudsters when devastated customers find out their holiday or trip to visit friends and family does not actually exist. The cost to them is not just financial; travel-related fraud crime also causes emotional distress and extreme disappointment.”
If you think you’ve fallen victim to a holiday fraud or any other type of scam, let your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040, or call Police Scotland on 101.