Over £207 million has been lost to scams in 2020 - here’s what to look out for

Scammers have targeted people online (Photo: Shutterstock)

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us have moved a lot of our lives online - from work to socialising. However, scammers and fraudsters have also done the same.

In the first half of 2020 alone, over £207 million was fraudulently taken from people around the UK.

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This is how to spot a scam and keep you and your money safe.

£207 million scammed

UK Finance states that over £207 million was lost to something called Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud, which happens when a person “is tricked into making a payment to another account that is controlled by a criminal.”

Banks, and other finance providers, were able to successfully return £73.1 million of the overall losses from APP fraud to the victims.

Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, Katy Worobec, said, “Criminals have ruthlessly adapted to this pandemic with scams exploiting the rise in people working from home and spending time online. These range from investment scams promoted on social media and search engines to the use of phishing emails and fake websites to harvest people’s data.

“The banking industry is working hard to protect customers from this threat, with almost £7 in £10 of fraud prevented in the first half of this year. But we need the public to remain vigilant against scams and remember that criminals are experts at exploiting events like Covid-19 to impersonate trusted organisations.

“Always take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information, and don’t let a criminal rush or panic you into making a decision that you’ll later come to regret.”

What to look out for

UK Finance has launched a campaign to make people aware of online fraud, called the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign.

“Remember that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police,” UK Finance says.

So all you have to do is remember these three easy steps:

  • Stop: take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information
  • Challenge: could it be fake? It’s okay to back out, refuse or ignore any requests - only criminals will try to rush you or panic you
  • Protect: contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam, or report it to Action Fraud

Citizens Advice also says that if you’ve transferred money to a scammer in the last 24 hours, you should tell the police immediately by calling 101.

How to report fraud

You can report fraud or cybercrime to Action Crime at any time, day or night, by using the online reporting tool.

You’ll either need to sign into your Action Fraud account, or sign up for one, but after that, the tool will guide you through questions that identify what happened.

Action Fraud advisers are also available via web chat 24 hours a day to provide help and advice if needed. You can find the web chat on the Action Fraud website by clicking the red chat icon at the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

You can also report fraud to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040. The lines are open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm.