Barclays bank has alerted Britons to stay vigilant, as its data showed over a third of all money lost to scammers is through what is known as an impersonation scam. Impersonation scams involve someone pretending to be a family member, friend, the police, or a bank, for instance.
Victims tend to lose some £4,330 on average to this type of scam, according to data from Barclays.
However, the bank has warned of the rising prevalence of impersonation scams where criminals claim to be a public figure.
In fact, of those targeted by impersonation scams, some 40 percent received a message via social media appearing to be from a celebrity or influencer.
Sadly, criminals are using the identities of real, well-known people – who are totally innocent – to defraud unsuspecting victims.
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But it is not just celebrities that scammers are impersonating. Barclays data shows that almost half of all money lost to impersonation scams involve scammers pretending to be the police or one’s bank.
Ross Martin, head of digital safety, at Barclays, said: “Impersonation scams are one of the most common ways in which criminals target victims, whether it’s by impersonating celebrities, or more commonly family members, friends, and even trusted organisations – such as your bank.
“Scammers will play on your emotions and try to instil a sense of urgency, pressuring you into sending them money.
“If you receive unexpected calls or messages, especially ones asking for money, immediately end the conversation and call back on a number you trust and have verified.
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“Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Thankfully, there are several ways Britons can protect themselves and stay safe from impersonation scams.
Firstly, individuals should always be wary of unexpected calls or messages, as scammers will often make calls or messages look like they’re coming from someone a person knows, or a well-known organisation such as a bank or the police.
Mr Martin also stressed people should never click on links in messages they are unsure about – especially those they have received out of the blue.
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This is often a way for scammers to redirect people to a website to steal personal information.
Those who are unsure should call the person or company directly, using a number they trust, to confirm if the correspondence is legitimate.
Finally, Britons should never fall for the ‘safe account’ scam, a claim their money is at risk and they need to transfer it to keep it safe.
A bank will never tell a person their funds are at risk, or they need to send them elsewhere to keep them safe.
If this happens, it is definitely a scam and people should immediately end the conversation.
Mr Martin added: “If you are worried you have been duped into sharing your bank details or sending money to a scammer, get in contact with your bank as soon as you can.
“Anyone that isn’t sure the call is from their legitimate bank should immediately end the call and telephone their bank, using the number on the back of their credit or debit card.
“If they are a Barclays customer, they can use the ‘direct call’ option in the Barclays mobile banking app, or ask the caller to verify themselves by sending a notification within the Barclays App.”