58% jump into scam messages where criminals impersonate friends and family, bank discoveries
A cost-of-living scam where criminals send messages claiming to be from friends or family members who urgently need help paying their bills is on the rise, according to a bank.
The TSB recorded a 58% increase in “friends and family” scams in July compared to the same month a year earlier.
The takeover was prompted by fraudulent requests for help paying bills, the bank said, as the rising cost of living takes its toll.
The TSB said its own research suggests a fraud loss of £500 would leave three-fifths of households struggling to eat for more than a week.
The average loss in such cases is £1,500, according to the bank’s analysis, although amounts can vary widely, with the majority of attempted scams taking place on WhatsApp.
In one case, a 71-year-old customer sent £1,700 to a fraudster following an urgent and emotional request claiming to be from his daughter needing money to pay bills.
A fraudster also stole £50 from a 29-year-old customer after posing as a close friend and asking for help with energy payments.
Both cases were reimbursed in full through the TSB’s Fraud Reimbursement Guarantee.
Victims usually receive a message from a new number along with a plausible story as to why their number has changed.
After starting the conversation, an emotional request for payment is sent – made more credible and urgent due to the current economic climate – the bank said.
The bank is also urging people to beware of fraud where they can be tricked into paying upfront fees for loans, services or prices that don’t exist.
Paul Davis, Director of Fraud Prevention at TSB, said: “A fraud loss will be particularly painful for households in these difficult economic conditions, so we urge the public to be extremely vigilant of unsolicited contact or offers. online that might just be a scam. .
“With more than half of fraud losses not reimbursed to victims by other banks, take your time and don’t rush no matter how emotional and urgent the request.”
A spokesperson for energy regulator Ofgem said it recently asked all energy suppliers to ensure clear and up-to-date information about scams is readily available on their websites.
The spokesperson said: “It is alarming that vulnerable customers are being preyed upon in this way when people are already struggling so much…
“We take these attempts to exploit consumers very seriously and are working with the National Cyber Security Center to prevent these malicious attacks.
“If people aren’t sure if something is a scam, they need to pause, check, and not let callers pressure you into doing anything.
“Authentic organizations won’t mind your recalling; only scammers exert pressure and insist that you give them the details immediately.
“If in doubt about a message, consumers should contact the organization directly and not use the numbers or address contained in the message – use their official website details.”