The nation is in the grip of a phishing epidemic, with a staggering three quarters (74 per cent) of Britons targeted by scammers with phishing emails, smishing texts and vishing calls. With each person targeted receiving an average of 16 fraudulent emails, texts or calls last year, this means up to 600 million phishing, smishing and vishing attempts potentially took place in the UK in the last 12 months.
In order to raise public awareness of the UK’s major phishing problem, Santander UK has given a truly British institution a distinctly phishy twist: by launching a fish and chips van that actually accepts payment in the form of phishing emails and smishing texts.
Customers at Santander’s new Phish & Chips van can simply present staff with a phishing email or smishing text, in exchange for a portion of fish and chips, along with a side of advice on avoiding the tricks criminals use in their attempts to steal people’s money and identities. Customers without a phishing email or text to show can alternatively take a short quiz to identify a scam email or text.
While ‘phishing’ as a term may have entered the mainstream lexicon, Santander’s research shows that one in seven people don’t know the terms phishing, smishing or vishing at all, while almost three quarters of people are not fully familiar with their meaning.
Reza Attar-Zadeh, Head of Customer Experience at Santander UK, commented: “Santander takes the fight against fraud very seriously – we have seen the life changing impact it can have on people’s lives. Consumer awareness is absolutely key to tackling what is currently one of the biggest threats to the security of people’s finances. Our Phish & Chips van is a way of delivering our three key fraud prevention messages in an engaging way while educating people that both banks and consumers have a role to play in keeping the fraudsters at bay.”
In addition to dishing out fish and chips, Santander UK is serving up its top tips and advice on avoiding becoming a victim of phishing scams:
- Never share your Santander One Time Passcode (OTP), PIN number or online banking password with another person, not even Santander staff;
- Never download software or let anyone log on to your computer devices remotely during or after a cold call; and
- Never enter your online banking details after clicking on a link in an email or text message.
Of the 74 per cent of British adults that Santander UK’s research shows have been targeted by scammers almost two thirds (65 per cent) have received a phishing email, 23 per cent a phishing SMS and just over one in 10 (11 per cent) a phishing telephone call (‘vishing’). Over a quarter (27 per cent) believed the communications to be genuine, and seven per cent subsequently fell victim to the scammers, seeing their identities stolen, money withdrawn from their accounts and fraudulent payments made on their credit cards.
Although the latest fraud figures from Financial Fraud Action UK show an overall reduction of eight per cent in total fraud losses, there has been a seven per cent rise in the number of cases of remote banking fraud with a five per cent rise in internet banking, a seven per cent rise in telephone banking and a twenty per cent rise in mobile banking in the first half of 2017.
Reza Attar-Zadeh added: “Phishing has been around for a number of years, originating with emails that were unsophisticated and obviously fraudulent. However, today phishing emails have evolved. They can appear in inboxes as convincing and genuine communications from consumer brands, but there are signs to look out for such as spelling mistakes, generic greetings rather than your name and suspicious looking email addresses.”
Delving further into the research by Santander UK, the results suggest:
- It is those aged 25 – 34 that are most likely to receive scam communications. However, it is the 18 – 24 year olds that are most likely to be duped by scam artists, with 39 per cent of this age group believing a phishing email, text or call to be genuine against an average of 27 per cent;
- Scammers will target those with higher incomes, with 77 per cent of those earning over £25,000 targeted compared with 71 per cent of those earning less than £25,000; and
- When it comes to the UK’s phishing hotspots, the research points to Scotland as the phisherman’s favourite trawling ground, followed closely by South East England and North East England. The South West, meanwhile, is the least targeted relative to other regions.