How common are internet scams and fraud?
Scams and fraud are extremely common on the internet, so it’s important to be prepared. Research conducted in 2022 on behalf of Ofcom found that:
- Nearly 9 in 10 adult internet users (87%) have encountered content online that they believed to be a scam or fraud.
- Nearly half (46%) of adult internet users reported having personally been drawn into engaging in an online scam or fraud.
- 39% reported knowing someone who had fallen victim to an online scam or fraud.
- 25% of those who encountered a scam or fraud lost money as a result.
- A third (34%) reported the scam or fraud had an immediate negative effect on their mental health.
- The most common types of scams or fraud experienced are:
- Impersonation fraud (51%)
- Counterfeit goods (42%)
- Investment, pension, or other “get rich quick” scams (40%)
- Computer software fraud or ransomware scams (37%)
- The most likely place to encounter online scammers or fraud includes email (30%) and social media newsfeeds (12%). The most common way potential victims may be contacted is via direct message on social media (41%).
- According to Ofcom, while anyone may be the victim of scams, certain vulnerabilities may make it more likely, including:
- Cognitive difficulties including neurodiversity and dementia,
- Loneliness or a desire for connection,
- Debt, the cost-of-living crisis, or a desire to get rich quickly,
- Low self-esteem,
- Growing up with insecure attachments or relationships, such as in childhood emotional abuse or absent parents.
In addition, the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute found that people with mental health problems are three times more likely to fall victim to an online scam.
This means that, with stress around the cost-of-living crisis and rising mortgage interest rates, scam and fraud prevention may be more important now than ever, especially for people with mental illnesses.