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Barclays launches £10m UK digital safety campaign

Barclays is to lead a £10m campaign against digital fraud as research reveals London, Bristol and Birmingham are scam hotspots, with young adults most at risk

London, Bristol and Birmingham have the largest gaps in public resilience to fraud scams, according to the new national Digital Safety Index based on a Barclays survey of 6,000 people across the UK.

The East Midlands emerged as the most resilient region for digital safety scores, followed by Yorkshire and Humber, and North West England.

The data shows that London and Bristol also top the tables for the most reported cases of fraud, with Manchester joining them in the top three. Newcastle reported fewer cases of fraud and scams, while Liverpool reported a particularly high number of impersonation scams.

Londoners with a master’s degree and aged 25 to 34 are the UK’s most vulnerable group, with men slightly more at risk than women, the data shows. People in this age group are twice as likely to be victims of online fraud than older generations, the data shows.

Nearly a fifth of people who have been a victim of a fraud or scam take no action to boost their digital defences as a result, and only 17% of people in the UK can correctly identify basic digital threats such as social media messages intended to trick users into sharing personal details or downloading malware.

Barclays UK chief executive officer Ashok Vaswani is calling for the public, police and businesses across the UK to unite and tackle this growing issue of public concern. 

The Barclays-led digital safety campaign is aimed at raising the public’s awareness of financial fraud risks, and keeping them safe in the digital age with information, tools and tips.

Read more about fraud

This initiative comes as the latest crime figures show 5.6 million fraud and cyber offences in the UK make up half of all recorded crime and cost the UK £11bn. But these numbers could be even higher, as new Barclays research reveals a quarter of people in the UK have experienced a cyber-fraud or scam in the past three years, 18% of them more than once, suggesting that many cyber crimes go unreported.

Under the initiative, Barclays has become the first UK high street bank to give customers greater control over when, where and how their debit cards work. Customers will be able to instantly switch the function for remote purchases on and off, as well as set their own daily ATM withdrawal limits on their Barclays mobile banking app.

The campaign also includes an online quiz for people to assess their own digital safety level and get tips on how to strengthen their defences, along with a multi-channel national advertising campaign to alert people to the risk of fraud.

Barclays providing digital safety teach-ins

Barclays will provide digital safety teach-ins nationwide, as well as free support clinics for small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) customers in the UK. It is also launching new digital safety learning content specifically designed for younger people.

The bank is leading industry efforts to prevent instances where customers are duped into withdrawing all their cash from branches and handing it to a scammer posing as a trusted person, through a new police hotline for branch colleagues to call.

“Fraud is often wrongly described as an invisible crime, but the effects are no less damaging to people’s lives,” said Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK.

“As a society, our confidence in using digital technology to shop, pay our bills and connect with others has grown faster than our knowledge of how to do so safely. This has created a ‘digital safety gap’ which is being exploited by criminals.

“I believe the need to fight fraud has now become a national resilience issue, and we all need to boost our digital safety levels in order to close the gap,” he said. “That is why we are launching this new national campaign on digital safety, and we will do everything in our power to arm people with the tools and information they need.

“I want to help make digital safety as commonplace as locking your front door. I want businesses, the police and the public to unite and stand shoulder to shoulder to block and frustrate the bad guys at every turn.”

Following basic fraud-prevention measures

Barclays estimates that if people implemented just three basic measures, fraud levels could be reduced by up to 75%. These measures are:

1. Never give out your full online banking PIN, passcode or password to anyone, even a caller claiming to be from the police or your bank.

2. Do not click on any link or open an attachment on any e-mail you receive which is unsolicited.

3. Avoid letting someone you do not know have access to your computer, especially remotely.

Any individual or company that suspects it has been the victim of fraud can call Action Fraud on: 0300 123 2040 or contact them online.

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention

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