People may be more at risk of falling for a fake email scam than a rogue trader

People could be more at risk of falling for an email scam than a more “traditional” con where a rogue trader turns up on their doorstep, research suggests.

More than a quarter (28%) of people would go ahead with a request for payment received by email without calling the supplier directly to check the details, a survey from Nationwide Building Society found.

This was a much bigger percentage than the 5% of people who said they would take the advice of, and pay, someone claiming to be a builder who knocked on their door and advised them that work urgently needed to be carried out.

  • 28% of people would pay an email invoice without checking with a supplier.
  • 5% of people would pay someone claiming to be a builder who turned up unexpectedly on their doorstep offering to carry out work.

With this type of con, criminals knock on someone’s door unexpectedly offering their services. 

Fraudsters convince homeowners to pay for work that is overpriced, poor quality, not necessary or not carried out.

Nationwide said it also wants to raise awareness around invoice scams that can be the result of emails being hacked – where criminals intercept personal emails, change the account details on an invoice to their own and resend.

The survey found that while 22% of those aged 55 and over would not check an email invoice via a phone call to the supplier – potentially putting themselves at risk of fraud – this increased to 37% of 25 to 34-year-olds who would not check.

In general, people who transfer money from their bank account directly to a fraudster run the risk of never seeing their money again – as they have authorised the payment.

Stuart Skinner, Nationwide’s director of fraud, said: “Criminals are not complacent, which is why people need to learn about new ways in which scammers are trying to get their hands on their hard-earned money.

“Scams constantly evolve and people need to understand how they could be targeted. Just because an email looks genuine, it doesn’t mean it is and just because someone isn’t physically at your doorstep, it doesn’t make the threat any less real.”

Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud, said: “Fraudsters will often pose as well-known companies or people you know to trick you into parting with information and money.

“To prevent this from happening, always check the source of emails that request payment for goods before passing on any personal information. If something feels wrong, it’s usually right to question it.”

More than 2,000 people were surveyed.

Here are Nationwide Building Society’s tips for avoiding scams:

1. Do not rush to get work done by someone knocking on your door – take your time to do your research and look out for neighbours who may be more likely to feel pressurised.

2. Fake invoices received by email can be very convincing – check personally using separate contact details before parting with your money.

3. Report suspect activity to Action Fraud. Nationwide also has fraud awareness events in branches.

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