2.5 million UK households received a scam call in the last month
Nearly half of Brits admit they wouldn’t be able to spot a scam
TalkTalk partners with Get Safe Online to launch nationwide ‘Beat the Scammers’ campaign

Telephone and internet scams across the UK have reached an all-time high, with Britons now more likely to receive a landline call from a scammer (72%), than from our best friends (36%) or family members (64%).

According to new research released today by TalkTalk and Get Safe Online, 2.5 million UK households received a scam call last month. 63% received a suspicious email and 43% a suspicious text message. This mirrors Action Fraud’s recent announcement that it now receives 8,000 reports a month from people targeted by phishing scams – the highest ever recorded figure.

To address this growing threat and help people protect themselves against fraud, TalkTalk has partnered with Get Safe Online - the UK’s leading source of information on online safety - to launch a nationwide awareness and education campaign called, ‘Beat the Scammers’.

Tristia Harrison, TalkTalk Consumer’s managing director, says:

We know we have a responsibility to help protect our customers and we’re determined to play our part in combating this growing problem. Traditionally the onus has been put on individuals to stay vigilant. But these increasingly sophisticated crimes are now affecting the whole country on an unprecedented scale - no one business, agency or individual can beat it on their own. We need nationwide action to take the fight to the scammers and make sure the online world is a safe place to play, work and stay connected.

The initiative (part of TalkTalk’s long term security strategy which ramped up dramatically after the company was itself targeted by cyber criminals last year) will kick off this month. As well as a significant communications drive to TalkTalk’s four million customers, the national campaign will offer advice from industry experts and new tools to help consumers combat this 21st century crime spree. ‘Beat the Scammers’ is also looking to recruit an army of ‘Scam Busters’ from across the UK who have outsmarted the criminals and are willing to share their stories and tips. 

The Campaign – Beat the Scammers

With almost half of those surveyed (42%) saying they would not be able to spot a scam, TalkTalk has created a dedicated online hub (talktalk.co.uk/beatthescammersto make it easier for people to outsmart the scammers. Alongside advice and guidance about scam protection, TalkTalk has created a video with fraud prevention expert James Freedman to reveal the most common tactics scammers will use, as well as an interactive Scam IQ Test which gives people the chance to test their ability to identify a scam.

New guidelines to help identify suspicious calls, texts and emails

Following similar action taken by several retail banks, TalkTalk has become the first telecoms provider to create a set of specific guidelines outlining information it will NEVER ask customers for. It is hoped other telecoms providers will follow suit to develop an industry-wide set of rules.

These ‘Nevers’ will be communicated to all TalkTalk customers through email and letter, and will replace standard hold music when customers call the value for money provider. Engineers will also now leave behind a security leaflet after every home visit.

New and improved privacy calling features to block more scam calls

TalkTalk is already blocking 70million calls on its network every month and is the first and only telecoms provider to offer free privacy calling features as standard, allowing customers to see who is calling them; block the last number that called; and prevent calls from withheld numbers.                

Now TalkTalk is making it easier than ever to report a suspicious or nuisance call, expanding its ‘report and block’ service from telephone to online. A dedicated expert team will then investigate suspicious callers and prevent them from reaching all TalkTalk homes.

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, comments:

A lot of people fall victim to scams because they never think it will happen to them; we can’t let the criminals have the upper hand, so are pleased to be working with TalkTalk to raise awareness of this growing menace.

If you get contacted out of the blue by a company you trust, asking you to act urgently, you should be suspicious. Criminals create panic to override your common sense; always trust your instincts and think twice before handing over any information. That way we can to stop more people falling prey to criminals

Anyone who has fallen victim to a scam, and revealed banking information, should contact their bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre, which can be reached on 0300 123 2040 or via www.actionfraud.police.uk 

Ends

Notes to Editors

For more information please contact TalkTalk Press Office on talktalk@mhpc.com or 020 3128 6902.

Anyone who has outsmarted the scammers and would like to share their experience can do so by emailing BeatTheScammers@talktalkplc.com 

The TalkTalk Nevers:

  • TalkTalk will NEVER ask customers to provide their full password - we'll only ever ask for two digits in order to protect their security.
  • TalkTalk will NEVER ask for customers’ bank details to process a refund - if you're a TalkTalk customer, your bank details will already be registered on our systems.
  • TalkTalk will NEVER ask customers to send money through services such as MoneyGram or Western Union. Scammers do this to prevent transactions from being traced back to them.
  • TalkTalk will NEVER use your TalkTalk account number to prove a call is genuine.

Top tactics criminals use on scam calls

  1. Pretend to be from a trusted brand – mentioning a well-known company or brand in their introduction means you’re much more likely to believe the call is genuine and less likely to hang up
  2. Encourage you to share personal details - by quoting some personal information, the fraudster encourages you to share more personal details that they could use to put you at risk
  3. Create a sense of panic – they tend to describe a problem that needs immediate action, because adding a sense of urgency means you won’t have enough time to question them
  4. Make the call sound plausible - Bringing another person into the conversation, playing the background noise of a busy office or just reminding you of that big brand they represent are all techniques to make the call sound credible

Statistics on the growth of phone and online scams

Research from the Money Advice Service shows eight scam calls are placed every second from fraudsters purporting to be banks, utilities companies, even HMRC.

Research from Get Safe Online revealed a 20% rise in ‘phishing’ emails, calls and texts from criminals masquerading as trusted entities in order to access confidential information or steal money.

According to Financial Fraud Action, fraudsters stole £755m from Britons during 2015 – a 26% increase on the year before. Losses to online and telephone banking scams totalled £168.6m in 2015, a staggering 72% increase compared with the year before. Source

The Office of National Statistics reports 5.1 million incidents of fraud in England and Wales last year, with over 2 million individuals experiencing financial loss. Source 

Figures from Action Fraud show 8,000 reports of ‘phishing‘ scams a month: 

The research by TalkTalk and Get Safe Online comprised two surveys, one of 2,000 UK adults carried out in May 2016; and the other was an ICM survey of 1004 UK adults carried out between 1st-6th April 2016.