Here's what you should do if you are targeted by a scam text or call

MILLIONS of people across the UK have been targeted by fraudulent calls and texts over summer.

By Freddie Webb
Monday, 25th October 2021, 4:12 pm

Over the last three months, almost 45 million people have been on the receiving end of potential scam texts or calls.

That is according to estimates from Ofcom, and the regulator is increasingly concerned about the significant rise in suspicious calls and texts.

They are also worried about the adaptability of fraudsters, targeting people through different communication channels depending on their age and spoofing well-known companies.

A woman uses a smartphone in front of a laptop. Picture: ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images

Lindsey Fussell, networks and communications group director at Ofcom, said: ‘Criminals who defraud people using phone and text scams can cause huge distress and financial harm to their victims, and their tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated.’

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Out of the 2,000 adults surveyed, 82 per cent of them said they received a suspicious message via a text, recorded message or live phone call to a landline or mobile.

This represents an estimated 44.6 million adults in the UK.

Younger people have been more susceptible to text messages, the most common form of scam.

According to the survey, 71 per cent of respondents said they received a suspicious text, and three quarters of them were aged between 16 and 34.

The elderly have been more vulnerable to landline telephone scams, with 61 per cent of people receiving these calls being 75 or over.

The data also shows the persistence of these calls and texts despite people taking measures to stop them.

More than half of adults surveyed – 53 per cent – said they had to deal with a fraudulent landline call at least once a week and 44 per cent get sent a suspicious text once a week.

Even though the majority of people are able to protect themselves, many scams are still successful.

Ofcom estimates that nearly one million people followed the scammers’ instructions, risking emotional distress and financial loss as a result.

The regulator are taking several measures to solve this problem.

They have recently ordered phone networks to block foreign based scam calls which use UK phone numbers as an alias.

Criminals have been using internet-based calling technology, also known as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), to make fraudulent calls looks as if they’re from legitimate numbers.

Popular service such as WhatsApp and Zoom uses this system, and Ofcom hopes blocking foreign based VoIP providers will limit these calls.

People can report fraudulent texts messages by forwarding them to their mobile provider on 7726.

They can also report suspicious calls to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040.

To make sure you protect yourself from scams, Ms Fussell said: ‘Stay alert to any unsolicited contact.

‘Put the phone down if you have any suspicion that it is a scam call, and don’t click on any links in text messages you’re unsure about.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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