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Scammers a risk to all

Scammers a risk to all

Category: Money

Updated: 18/05/2009
First Published: 18/05/2009

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Being financially savvy could increase your chances of falling foul to scammers, according to research conducted by the University of Exeter on behalf of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Mass marketing scams catch out members of the UK public every day, with victims falling for psychological techniques which cost us an estimated £3.5 billion every year.

One might think that the elderly or the financially uninformed among us would likely be the ones who are the victims of scams, but new research has found that successful professionals are just as likely to be stung.

In fact, one of the key findings of the report was that victims are not generally poor decision makers and that financial knowledge can increase the chance of getting scammed because of over-confidence.

Other findings revealed that up to 20 per cent of the UK population could be especially vulnerable to such tactics, with previous victims more likely to be caught out again.

Furthermore, those undone are usually prone to persuasion by others and being unable to keep their emotions in check. People should beware of any offer or proposition which generates responses of excitement or fear. Such techniques are used to provoke an instant gut reaction – often an expensive one.

Mark Haley, director of consumer protection at the OFT, labelled the psychological techniques utilised by scammers as sophisticated and heartless.

"Scams often have a devastating emotional as well as financial impact on victims. This research will help us develop more effective methods to counter scammers," he added.

The research findings will be used by the joint OFT and Serious Organised Crime Agency's strategy for tackling mass marketing fraud and developing more effective consumer awareness campaigns to help consumers recognise and resist scams.

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