The Office of National Statistics reports nearly six million fraud and cyber crimes are committed every year, with one in ten falling victim. So are you savvy at spotting scams or could a fraudster fool you?
If I believed everything I read in my junk folder I would be the lucky winner of countless competitions I didn’t enter, apparently several banks need me to urgently confirm login details and PayPal is threatening to close my non-existent account.
Many scam emails are easy to spot – any message addressing me as a ‘valued customer’ is immediately expelled to the virtual bin. But, so-called ‘phishing’ attacks (messages that attempt to trick you into revealing personal or financial information) have become increasingly convincing.
Spotting a scam
For the first time, the Office of National Statistics has revealed the true scale of people hit by cybercrime and fraud showing that people are 20 times more likely to become a victim of fraud than they are of theft.
When we asked over 1,000 members of the public if they could spot the difference between real and spoof emails, we found that many people were fooled by more sophisticated scams.
A quarter of them fell for a fake BT email asking customers to update their email addresses – the links embedded appeared as ‘bt.com/ linkemail’, but in reality these led to a bogus web page where scammers could potentially steal their details.
An Apple iTunes message asking recipients to confirm a specific purchase split the public right down the middle: 50% correctly identified it as a phishing attempt, but the rest were either unsure (27%) or convinced that it was a real message from the company (23%).
The public were on the ball when it came to a ‘NatWest’ email though, which 79% correctly identified as a fake. And a ‘PayPal’ email which 74% recognised as a scam.
However, in both cases a handful of people were duped by the forged sender addresses which appeared to come from the real companies. If they’d fallen for these messages in real life, they might have handed scammers everything they needed to commit ID fraud – or even raid their bank account.
Test your scam spotting skills
So how do you think you’d fare at spotting a scam email, why not put you scam spotting skills to the test in our quiz.
How did you do? The truth is it can be tricky to spot some scams as some can be very sophisticated and convincing. Fraud has reached record levels costing us £9bn every year. That’s why we’re calling on the government to take action and ensure businesses are doing enough to help safeguard us from scams.
So have you come across any dodgy looking emails recently? What did you do with them?