One in four Britons receive scam calls, texts and emails daily

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
June 11, 2021, 9:23 AM UTC

About half of the public say banks should reimburse scam victims, although support is also high for the Home Office’s proposal to use frozen criminal accounts

The UK’s cybersecurity agency has removed more scams in the last year than in the three previous years combined, and ministers have warned of a massive sudden spike in scam calls and texts.

YouGov data shows that calls, texts and emails from scammers are a daily nuisance for one in four people (25%), while another two in five (39%) say it occurs weekly. Some 17% of Britons receive scam messages and calls monthly, while only one in seven say it happens every few months (11%) or once a year or less (4%).

Older Britons are the most likely to say they receive daily scam correspondence, with 31% of those aged 65+ attesting to this. This compares with 22% of 25-49 year olds.

While the number of people falling prey for fraudulent messages and calls is lower, many people know someone affected or have been a victim themselves. Some 11% say this has happened to family member, while one in ten (10%) know a close friend who has been tricked, and 8% say they themselves have been scammed.

Who should reimburse scam victims?

While many banks are signed up to a voluntary scheme to reimburse customers who get scammed to transfer money to a fraudster, research shows they refuse to compensate most on the basis that the victim is to blame for the losses.

Around half of Britons (53%) say banks should reimburse people who lose money to a scam, while only 14% say no one should compensate them, and one in ten (10%) believe it should fall on the government.

This is similar to previous YouGov research from 2018, which showed that 49% of the public said that banks should reimburse victims even if they’ve been careless.

Home secretary Priti Patel has also suggested that scam victims could be reimbursed using suspected criminal funds from frozen bank accounts. The trade association UK Finance called on the government to allow this in 2017.

The proposal is popular with Britons. Three quarters of people (76%) support it, including 37% who are strongly in favour. Only 11% are against it. But despite the popularity, the money is unlikely to come close to cover the amount lost to scammers. Last year this figure came to £1.26 billion, while an estimate from 2017 suggested £130 million was held in frozen bank accounts.

See the full results here