We all like to think that we're pretty savvy when it comes to spotting financial fraudsters, but these days, it's more important than ever to be on your guard. The rise of online scammers means it can be all-too easy to be hoodwinked, and unfortunately, huge numbers are falling victim – and it's the older generation who are particularly vulnerable.
According to Aviva's latest Real Retirement Report, 73% of over-45s with internet access have been targeted by an email scam, with 6% – the equivalent of 1.24 million people – falling victim to these online scammers. A further 60% have been targeted via phone calls, with 7% (or 1.19 million) of those becoming a victim, but the fact that so many more have been targeted by email highlights the growing trend of online targeting.
Indeed, the research suggests that there's a 22% higher chance of over-45s being targeted by an email scam than a phone approach, and as a result, more are being caught out. It's the older generations who are most at risk, too: those aged 75+ are more likely to be targeted by fraudsters via email (76% vs. 73% of over-45s) and by phone (69% vs. 60%), and they're also more likely to fall victim to an email scam (8% compared with 6%).
Given the prevalence of online targeting, it's perhaps little wonder that the older age groups are more likely to feel vulnerable to technology (24% of over-75s compared with 21% of over-45s). However, the research also highlights the need for the Government to target online scammers as much as phone fraudsters, particularly when it comes to pensions.
"[Our research] highlights the security risks that come with lives that are increasingly led or supported by online services," said Rodney Prezeau of Aviva UK Life. "The Government is rightly taking action to combat the threat of pension cold-callers in later life, but it is important we don't forget the additional threats that exist in the digital age.
"As we move pensions out of the Stone Age and make increasing use of online tools, it is vital we ensure that consumers are fully safeguarded and supported so more people are encouraged to engage with their savings."
The Government is currently consulting on a cold-calling ban in relation to pensions, but that could take a while to come into effect. In the meantime, be on your guard!
You can start the process by reading our guide on how to protect yourself from online fraudsters, and happily, The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) is also getting involved to help people become more aware of the threat of online scams. It's doing this by launching an online pension scam guidance tool, accompanied by a social media campaign, which is designed to help boost awareness of scams and provide information to those who think they may have been targeted, and highlights the things consumers should look out for.
"We are seeing positive signs that consumers are now more aware of pension scams," said Michelle Cracknell of TPAS, "but we must continue to offer consumers opportunities to learn about scams. The tool we have launched today will go a way to helping those who may initially be too embarrassed or worried to ask for help … We want to give savers every opportunity to disrupt a potential scam and protect their pension from unscrupulous scammers."
Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.