Countdown's Susie Dent helps Brits find the right words to speak up

Highest ever year for Scams in 2020

02 February 2021

Susie Dent helps Brits find the right words to speak up

  • Barclays data reveals 2020 as year with the highest number of scams on record 
  • 66 per cent increase in the amount people are scammed by in the second half of 2020, compared to the first half of the year
  • Susie Dent, lexicographer and TV star, is encouraging victims to speak out as over half of Brits feel too embarrassed to report a scam

New research from Barclays reveals 2020 as the highest year on record for scams, as the value of fraudulent activity increased more than 66 per cent during the months of July to December. The stark increase was driven by high-value and complex scams, with fraudsters cashing in on the nation’s uncertainty during the pandemic.

The highest value claims came from investment scams (29 per cent) and impersonation scams (29 per cent). Investment scams often involve cloned webpages that appear legitimate to the untrained eye, while impersonation scams involve a customer being convinced their account is at risk and moving their money to a so-called ‘safe account’. The use of fear and intimidation is a powerful tactic, making impersonation scams the most commonly recorded scam by volume (22 per cent) for Barclays in 2020.

Despite the increase in scams, a Barclays poll shows that over half of Brits who have been scammed (54 per cent) are left feeling too embarrassed to report the crime. Barclays has partnered with Susie Dent, Britain’s best-known lexicographer, to encourage victims to find the words to speak out and not feel embarrassed.

Susie Dent, Lexicographer and TV star said: “There are plenty of things that people could find embarrassing. Being mocked by some of Britain’s top comedians on national television could be one of them, or publishing a book full of spelling errors could be another, but being a victim of fraud and scams shouldn’t be. Through talking about our experiences, we can work to remove the harmful stigma and embarrassment that comes from being duped.”

As a nation, it seems we are often left feeling red-faced: nearly half of Brits (49 per cent) admit to feeling embarrassed at least once a week, whilst one in three (27 per cent) say it’s a daily occurrence.

Whilst these moments make for wide grins and sore ribs, they also remind us that in the grand scheme of things, being scammed or defrauded needn’t be something Brits should feel embarrassed about. With one in three of us (35 per cent) admitting to having already fallen victim to a scam, Barclays is encouraging everyone to speak out and raise awareness of the issue. The bank says to speak to friends and family and share stories to help protect each other and know what to look out for.

Jim Winters, Head of Fraud at Barclays said: “With more and more Brits finding themselves the victim of fraud and scams, Barclays is challenging the stigma associated with being embarrassed and encouraging people to speak out about their experiences.

“There are actionable steps you can take to help protect yourself against being scammed. If you’re suspicious, talk to someone you trust. Don’t be afraid to admit to being duped into a scam. When you receive a suspicious email, phone call or text message, never assume it’s who you think. And most importantly, don’t ignore your concerns. If ever in doubt, speak out.”

For more information, please visit: www.barclays.co.uk/digisafe. Follow the Barclays UK social media pages on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for up-to-date tips and advice.