One in three Brits targeted by a scammer so far during lockdown Image: AdobeStock_87212890

Citizens Advice research: Half of those at an increased risk of coronavirus or shielding contacted

Over a third of British adults (36%) have been the target of a scam since lockdown began, new research by Citizens Advice has revealed.

Polling conducted on behalf of the charity also found that certain groups were at an increased risk of being contacted by a scammer. This was often those who could least afford it:

  • Of those with a disability or long term illness, 45% said they had been targeted
  • Half (50%) of those at an increased risk of coronavirus or shielding had been contacted
  • Over half (54%) of those who have lost personal income due to the virus have also been contacted

Citizens Advice web pages relating to scams saw an average of 49,000 page views a month since lockdown began in March. The average for the three months prior was 41,000 page views. The charity has seen calls from members of the public concerned about bogus testing kits, vaccinations and government refunds.

From this research, the majority of people (64%) say they are worried someone they know will fall foul of a con. And most people (90%) reported they felt wary of scammers taking advantage of the situation. Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“We’ve seen thousands of people coming to our website for advice on scams during the coronavirus outbreak as opportunistic scammers take advantage of the public’s concerns.

“Worryingly one in three of us has been targeted by a scam since lockdown began. This shows it’s really important we all do our bit and, like Martin, report them when we see them.

“By learning how scammers operate, and helping each other understand what to look out for, we can all work together to stop fraudsters in their tracks.”

Citizens Advice suggests taking the following steps to safeguard yourself and others:

  • Be suspicious if you’re contacted out of the blue, even if it’s from a name you recognise
  • If it sounds too good to be true it probably is
  • Never send money to someone you’ve never met
  • Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you
  • Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away and if you feel pressured say “no”
  • Suspect a scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call
  • Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams

Citizens Advice is urging anyone who thinks they may have been targeted by or has seen an online scam to report it to its Scams Action service, either online or on 0808 250 5050.

For in-person, mail and telephone scams, concerned consumers can report issues to the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133. Citizens Advice will give advice on what to do next and report the scam to Trading Standards.

Scams should also be reported to Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre.