One in five (20%) people respond to digital messages such as emails, texts or social media within two minutes according to research – potentially putting them at risk of fraud.
Across the UK, 28% of people said they respond to texts within two minutes typically, 19% reply to emails within this timeframe, and 14% act on a social media advert within two minutes, credit report and information company TransUnion found.
Generation Z adults born between 1995 and 2002 tended to be the quickest to respond.
But with criminals often sending out fake messages and links purporting to be from organisations such as banks, HM Revenue and Customs, the NHS and delivery companies as well as posting bogus ads, people could be caught out if they do not take time to think.
The cancellation of many events such as holidays during the coronavirus pandemic sparked a wave of fake rebate texts.
TransUnion said WiFi scams are also common, with the supposed broadband providers threatening to disconnect if the bogus fine is not paid.
Three out of four (76%) people surveyed said they have been targeted by fraud.
One in seven (14%) people said they had fallen victim to a scam, with the average lost put at more than £1,000.
John Cannon, managing director of fraud and ID at TransUnion in the UK said: “Scammers prey on consumers in times of vulnerability – such as the Covid-19 pandemic – and this coupled with an increasing reliance on tech has enabled fraudsters to flourish.”
Four in five (79%) people said they are now vigilant in general and the same amount carefully study language used in texts or emails. Seven in 10 (70%) now view all correspondence from any business or brand with suspicion.
Kelli Fielding, TransUnion’s managing director of consumer interactive in the UK, said: “It’s great to see consumers are getting more scam-savvy but given the volume of fraud attempts happening at the moment, it’s essential to remain vigilant.
“What we’re seeing is that whilst the rate of consumers falling victim hasn’t changed significantly, the scams have become more sophisticated and the losses much greater and that’s worrying, particularly at a time when many are still dealing with financial uncertainty resulting from the pandemic.”
Here are TransUnion’s fraud tips:
– Do not be rushed. Follow the advice from Action Fraud and Take Five to check something out. Criminals may try to rush you.
– Avoid clicking links or downloading attachments from unexpected emails or messages from a brand or business unless you are sure you know the origin. These could release malware onto your device or steal your bank details. It is OK to ignore unsolicited emails or messages.
– If you receive a suspicious phone call from a supposed WiFi provider asking for payment and threatening to disconnect you, hang up. Ring your broadband provider back on an official helpline number.
– Be wary of messages or emails offering a rebate or refund and asking for your bank details. Do not follow the links but if you think it may be genuine call the company directly on their official number.
– When online, make sure the webpage is https protected or shows a padlock – both of which are in the domain bar. This indicates that it is secure.
– If you are contacted by someone offering Covid-19 vaccines for money, remember that this vaccination is only available through the NHS, and they will not ask you to pay. Alert the police and Action Fraud.
– When downloading apps take care to ensure you are downloading the official version. Downloading an app from e-mail could be a phishing attempt.
– Make sure security settings are up-to-date on your devices. If you are working from home, be wary of emails seemingly from your company’s IT department asking you to download an update. You should confirm with them directly using a different telephone number to the one in the email.
– Regularly checking your credit report can help to protect your financial standing. This can also help you monitor for fraudulent activity if someone tries to use your identity in a scam.