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UK Businesses Lose Over £500k to Phone Scams

The VOIP and business broadband experts at Bionic, have analysed data from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and Action Fraud, to discover which regions of the UK are targeted most frequently with scam calls and are cheated out of the most money as a result. The study also examines which type of company scam callers pose as the most.

You can see the full study here: https://bionic.co.uk/blog/how-to-prevent-phone-scams/

Overall, there were 2,482 instances of phone fraud reported to UK Police across the last 13 months. This amounted to £1.8m in losses and of this £520,700 was lost by organisations & businesses. 

According the the study, these were the most common types of scams over the past year:

1, Broadband

2. Energy-saving

3. Insurance

4. Accident Claims

5. Debt Management

6. Energy supply

7. Lifestyle surveys

8. Banking

9. Silent/No answer

10. Computer scams

The data also revealed that:

  • Calls claiming to be able to save people money on their energy bills were the second most common.  Popular scams included calls about double-glazed windows to conserve heating or about your energy supply. This is highly concerning as energy bills are already soaring, with the price cap set to increase again in October by an estimated 65%.
  • There is a sharp +75% increase in phone scams after May, going from 1,023 reported scams in May to 1,795 scams in June.
  • November has the highest amount of scams overall and is the worst month for scams. Scammers seem to prey on the fact that people are more likely to respond to phone calls in colder months when spending more time indoors. Energy company vishers are likely to prey on growing anxiety over energy bills as winter approaches.

Bionic also studied which regions of the UK are targeted most commonly by vishing and which postcodes within these are most likely to be affected:

Rank Postcode City Number of Phone Scams
1 ME17 Medway 163
2 CF31 Cardiff 151
3 ST5 Stoke on Trent 133
4 RG6 Reading 119
5 BS16 Bristol 105
6 E17 London 104
7 BS23 Bristol 99
8 SO31 Southampton 96
9 SN12 Swindon 94
10 SW11 London 93
  • 10% of all phone scams in the UK happen in London. The high number of broadband scams in London could be down to the high volume of offices in the city
  • When looking at the postcodes most targeted by calls, the general trend is that Southern postcodes seem to be far more likely to receive scam calls than Northern ones. Medway in Kent, South East England receives the largest number of scam calls overall.
  • However, the North lost more money as a result of scams than the South. Salaries in the North are generally lower, and it is more likely to be affected by expensive scams amid a cost of living crisis
  • Northern Ireland suffers from the most expensive phone scams with £897 being lost per scam. The North West comes in second with the average scam costing around £509.
  • Callers seem to target affluent rural areas with the biggest and most expensive scams. For example, the affluent Cheshire reported £44,400 in losses across 42 scams (the second highest in the UK) but the much larger Greater Manchester had 87 and £30,000 less in losses despite being geographically close to Cheshire.

If you or your business has been a victim of a scam, there are a few steps that you can take as soon as you realise it’s happened.

1. Change your passwords

You should change any passwords that have been compromised as soon as possible. If you can, change all passwords — even ones that haven’t been affected — just as an extra precaution.

This could help lessen the chances of the scammer being able to use them to log into of your accounts.

2. Contact your bank account or credit card company

As soon as you know you’ve been a victim of a scam, contact your bank or credit card company immediately. Some online banking apps allow you to freeze cards quickly from there, so do this first if possible, just in case there’s a wait time to get through to your bank.

Depending on the severity of the situation, some banks may choose to either; freeze any cards, or cancel them and replace them with new ones.

Letting your bank know about the scammers means they’ll be able to monitor your account for any suspicious activity and put a temporary block on your account for money going out.

3. Report it

If a crime is in progress for you, someone you know or your business, call the police on 999. But if it’s not an emergency (a scam phone call may feel like an emergency to you, but not to the police), call 111.

To report a scam phone call or text messages to your mobile or smartphone, you can text 7726 – this spells SPAM on an alphanumeric kep

If you’ve lost money or been hacked as a result of responding to a vishing message, you need to report it:

  • In England, Wales or Northern Ireland, call 0300 123 2040 or visit the Action Fraud website.
  • If you live in Scotland, report to Police Scotland by calling 101.

If you’ve given over any financial details, such as bank or credit card numbers, you should get in touch with your bank or credit card provider. If you’ve been scammed into buying vouchers and given over the serial numbers to a scammer, you should also get in touch with the voucher provider (for example, Amazon). Do this as soon as possible as there may still be time to cancel the vouchers and refund.

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Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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