Impersonation scams have more than doubled in the first half of 2021 with crooks stealing £129.4m.
These scams involve criminals pretending to represent a trusted organisation such as a bank, the police, a government department or a service provider.
Banking watchdog UK Finance said there were 33,115 cases in the first half of the year – up from 14,947 in 2020 when £57.9m was stolen.
People are urged to challenge requests for info and to take action to protect themselves, such as reporting scams to a bank and the police.
Criminals trick their victims into transferring money using a range of stories. These include claiming they need to protect an account from fraud, that a fine or tax needs to be paid, or a refund sent by mistake must be returned.
Research found nearly a fifth of people felt uncomfortable saying no to a request for personal information from a stranger via email or text, rising to nearly a quarter when it comes to phone calls.
Gareth Shaw, from consumer group Which? said: “There has been a devastating spike in scams during the pandemic as fraudsters have exploited people’s isolation during lockdowns.
“Any unexpected emails, texts or phone calls asking for personal info or bank details should be treated as suspicious.”
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