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Barclays Scams Bulletin: Brits encouraged to be vigilant as invoice and mandate scams rise

20 May 2024

  • The new Barclays Scams Bulletin tracks scam data across all personal and business current accounts, paired with expert commentary from Barclays digital safety experts
  • The data shows invoice & mandate scams are on the rise, with the average claim exceeding £8.6k
  • Police and bank impersonation scams haven fallen by both volume and value in the last two months
  • Scams taking place via text or messaging apps now account for 8.2 per cent of all scam claims

The inaugural Barclays Scams Bulletin, launching today, shows that the total value and volume of scam claims made in March and April 2024 fell by -15.7 per cent and -7.1 per cent respectively, in comparison to January and February. Across scam type, invoice and mandate claims are on the rise, while police and bank impersonation scams have seen noticeable decreases in comparison to previous months.

The Bulletin monitors scams claims made across all Barclays personal and business current accounts, providing a comprehensive view of data and emerging trends to educate consumers on how to spot and stop scams at source, and protect their funds.

1. Invoice & mandate scam cases increase with the average claim exceeding £8.6k

  • Invoice and mandate scams were up 6.9 per cent across March and April
  • The value of invoice and mandate scams increased 24.6 per cent
  • The proportion of claims made by those aged 61-70 doubled, while high value cases among this group meant the average claim was £12k

What’s driving this trend?

Kirsty Adams, Fraud & Scams Expert at Barclays says: “Invoice scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Scammers target suppliers, creating fake emails requesting invoice payments that can look seriously legitimate.

“People might imagine that invoice scammers solely target those working in finance, but it’s important for everyone to stay vigilant – particularly as we approach the summer, when consumers might be settling big invoices for events such as weddings and parties. It can be devastating to have a life event ruined by a heartless scam.”

“It is always worth double checking invoice and payment details against a previous invoice and if in any doubt, verify the details or amount with a known contact from the business over the phone.”

2. Smishing scams on text and messaging apps remain a widely-used tactic

  • The volume of scams taking place via text or a message app made up 8.2 per cent of all scam claims in March-April 2024, a marginal fall compared to January-February’s 8.5 per cent
  • Scams originating on SMS/messaging apps accounted for a smaller share of the total value of claims, at 5.6 per cent
  • The average claim was £2.1k – less than a quarter of the £8.5k average for all scam types – suggesting “smishing” (the fraudulent use of SMS text messages to trick targets into clicking malicious links or handing over private information) continues to be a widely-used tactic for lower value scams

Kirsty Adams, Fraud & Scams Expert at Barclays says: “Social media platforms are the number one source of scams, however, our data shows that scammers are frequently targeting victims via text message too. There’s a risk people will assume that because someone has their number, they’re getting in touch with a genuine request.

“Family and friend impersonation scams, where a scammer pretends to be someone you know in order to get you to transfer money at a moment in need, have become worryingly commonplace. Scammers also use mobiles to target victims with investment and advance fee scams – where those targeted are duped into paying an upfront fee and for a service or product that doesn’t arrive.

“We’re warning everyone to stay alert and do their due diligence before communicating with any new number. If you believe you’re in contact with someone you trust, give them a call. And if you receive an unsolicited message requesting money, that should set alarm bells ringing.”

3. Police and Bank Impersonation scams decrease in both volume and value

  • March-April saw the volume of Police and Bank Impersonation scams fall 32.9 per cent
  • Over the same time period, the total value decreased 54.3 per cent
  • Those aged 70+ made up a third (32.7 per cent) of all reported Police and Bank Impersonation scams, while 31-40 was the only age group whose number of scam claims increased

Kirsty Adams, Fraud & Scams Expert at Barclays says: “There are fluctuations in scam tactics throughout the year, but it’s encouraging to see this is one scam type that has seen a decrease.

“With so much work being done across the industry to educate consumers, it is plausible that people are increasingly wary of impersonation scams, but our work is not done. As scammers’ tactics continue to evolve, it’s imperative that we continue to invest in arming the public with information and tools to spot and stop scams.”

More information on how to spot scams and tips on how to protect yourself are available on the Barclays website.

Notes to editors

The figures in this release are based on Barclays business and personal current account customer scam data for March-April 2024, compared with data from January-February 2024.

For more information, please contact Dee Fallon at deirdre.fallon@barclays.com or India McMillan at india.smyth@barclays.com

About Barclays

Our vision is to be the UK-centred leader in global finance. We are a diversified bank with comprehensive UK consumer, corporate and wealth and private banking franchises, a leading investment bank and a strong, specialist US consumer bank. Through these five divisions, we are working together for a better financial future for our customers, clients and communities.