It is often said that politeness pays – but banks are warning that is never true when dealing with fraudsters.
Many people find it difficult to say no to or reject unsolicited calls, texts, and emails from con artists posing as representatives of a reputable organisation.
According to the banking trade body UK Finance, the number of cases of so-called impersonation fraud more than doubled in the first half of the year to 33,115.
Nearly £130m was stolen by criminals using this tactic, it said.
That compared with £58m during the first six months of last year, the figures show.
Banks have been criticised for failing to adapt their methods to tackling fraud, particularly among young victims.
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During the pandemic, the most common “smishing” attack is when fraudsters send a message that appears to be from a legitimate number, claiming that a small payment is required before a package can be delivered.
When the recipient clicks on the link, they are redirected to a bogus website that attempts to steal their banking information.
According to a UK Finance survey, 92 percent of people admitted to saying yes to answering phones or taking messages because they did not want to appear rude.
According to the study, people use a variety of phrases to avoid saying no, the most common of which is “I’m not sure.”
“If someone contacts you unprompted and asks for personal or financial information, stop and think – even if they claim to be from an organisation you trust,” said Tony Blake, fraud expert at UK Finance.
“Only criminals will put you under pressure to act quickly.” Remember, it’s okay to say no and contact the organisation through a legitimate channel.”
“Criminals are very sophisticated these days, with technology allowing them to impersonate your bank or police very convincingly, meaning even the most shrewd person can be caught out and lose their life savings,” said Laura Suter, head of personal finance at investment firm AJ Bell.