Scammers are notoriously good at staying ahead of the curve in their techniques to trick you.
I love magic tricks – I’m always so amazed when someone appears to read my mind and tell me what card I’d pictured. That’s right, it’s the 10 of Clubs – how did you know? It must be magic!
But it’s not – the truth is if I hadn’t been so wrapped up in the trick, I could’ve spotted the many clues dropped into the pattern leading me to pick the 10 of Clubs. I’m just predictable – predictably human and predictably vulnerable to tricks…
Easy to trick
I’m not the only one that loves these tricks, if the popularity of Derren Brown and Dynamo is anything to go by. But these psychological techniques can be used for more sinister ends – scammers are increasingly relying on people to behave predictably.
Did you know, according to the Office of National Statistics, that you’re 20 times more likely to fall victim to fraud than robbery?
According Robert Cialdini, professor of psychology, fraudsters use the ‘six principles of persuasion‘ to lure you to their tricks, these tactics are:
- Reciprocity – you’ll probably feel indebted to someone who does something for you, or gives you something.
- Commitment and consistency – once committed you’re more likely to be consistent and respond to their consistent messaging.
- Liking – you’re more likely to trust someone you like.
- Authority – you’re more likely to obey an authoritative figure.
- Scarcity – you’re likely to be persuaded to want something that’s rare.
- Social proof – this appeals to people’s needs to conform, you may be persuaded to do something by what others are doing too.
When we recently tested a group of people to identify genuine and scam emails we found that people could correctly identify the dodgy emails 67% of the time, and that was despite being confident that the right answer had been picked 84% of the time – it’s that gap that leaves us exposed to fraudsters and their tricks.
We can keep our wits about us, but the scams are increasingly sophisticated and play on our human nature to respond in certain ways to certain cues.
The Head of Fraud Prevention at Barclays says that when he listens back to scam phone calls, he is impressed by the fraudsters’ levels of customer service. When criminals are this artful, it’s no wonder that even the smartest people are caught out. And the results are also impressive: one in 10 of us fell victim to scams and fraud last year, costing the British public around £9bn a year.
Protection from scams
I’m not stupid. But like many I’m polite, trusting and follow the rules. It’s these exact qualities that make me more vulnerable to fraud.
When it comes to protecting yourself from scams knowing what to look out for can be just the half of it.
With scammers getting increasingly advanced in the techniques they’re using it seems unfair to be expected to fend off all fraudsters. And that’s why we’re campaigning to get companies to play their part in making it harder for scammers, we need companies to help by doing all they can to safeguard their customers from these clever scams.
If you suspect you’ve stumbled across a scam then you can report it to Action Fraud.
So, tell me, have you spotted any scammers exercising these persuasive tricks to get you to play along?