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UK consumer trust in banks, retailers and telcos declines as scams increase

Consumers are blaming banks, retailers and social media for the huge increase in online scams, survey shows

Consumers are calling for more action to be taken by organisations such as banks, retailers and social media platforms to reduce the number of online scams they receive.

According to a global survey of 10,000 people by Opinium for fraud prevention software company Callsign, in the last 12 months, three-quarters of consumers have received scam emails, while 66% were sent scams via text message, 58% via phone, and 15% through messaging apps.

The scammers attempt to use personal details to defraud consumers by tricking them into clicking on links to criminal websites or making payments to them.

Opinium found that in the UK, out of 1,000 respondents, 60% blamed banks, retailers, social media companies and telcos for the increase in scams, and called for a need for users to be able to prove “beyond doubt” who they are before using a platform.

The survey showed consumer trust of organisations is diminishing, with 35% of UK consumers losing trust in them because of the number of scams.

“Our data demonstrates that consumer trust in our digital world has vanished and – rightly or wrongly – brands are being blamed,” said Stuart Dobbie, senior vice-president of innovation at Callsign. “Yet the sense is that little is being actually done to purposely re-establish digital trust through complete and accurate digital identities.”

Some 44% of consumers in the UK want mobile operators to do more to prevent scammers using their platforms, and 37% are calling on banks to do so.

Consumers themselves are struggling to report scams because of the sheer volume of them and the lack of a clear organisation to report them to.

So it is no surprise that consumers are calling on businesses to do more to keep them safe and when it comes to stopping fraud and scammers, consumers know what action they want to be taken, according to the survey. More than one-third (38%) of UK consumers think users should have to prove who they are when logging into a platform.

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Dobbie said that without trust in knowing the identity of a platform user, trust will reduce further and large parts of society that are reliant on online systems will stop working. “Digital trust is about the confidence we have in the technology, processes and people to secure our digital world,” he said. “It is underpinned by digital identities, and the fact that scams are running wild proves that our digital identities are well and truly broken.”

According to recent figures from UK Finance, the amount of money lost to fraudsters in the UK totalled £754m in the first six months of this year, a rise of 30% from a year ago. It was described as being at a level where it poses a national security threat.

While banks are blamed by many for the scams and are expected to do more to stop them, the banking industry is calling for a joint effort between organisations in various sectors.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “We are calling for coordinated action and increased efforts from government and other sectors to tackle what is now a national security threat.

“Criminals continue to target customers with a variety of scams, often via online platforms, and it is only through coordinated action that we will be able to really make progress in addressing the problem.”

And in January, Anne Boden, CEO of digital challenger Starling Bank, called for cooperation between different sectors to clamp down on authorised push payment (APP) fraud, in which scammers trick people into making payments to them. She said other sectors must shoulder some responsibility for APP scams, particularly social media platforms. “Banks invest billions of pounds into tackling economic crime, but we cannot stop it on our own,” she said.

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