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Eight in 10 Brits feel unsafe on social media due to scammers

  • Tech platforms are the source of 87 per cent of all scams, according to Barclays data.
  • 78 per cent of Brits want to see tech companies doing more to prevent scammers from operating on their platforms.
  • Barclays is calling on tech companies to reimburse scam victims, a solution that financially incentivises scam prevention, as part of four major recommendations to tackle the nation’s scams epidemic.

Eight in 10 Brits (76 per cent) feel unsafe on social media due to scammers operating on these platforms, according to new research from Barclays1.

This comes as proprietary data from the bank reveals that 87 per cent of all scams now take place on tech platforms, including social media, online marketplaces, and dating apps2.

Scams are on the rise, and people are continuing to lose money.

Scams have surged by 24 per cent in the last quarter, compared to the same time last year3. Purchase scams, where people buy goods which never arrive or aren’t as advertised, are the most common, accounting for two-thirds (66 per cent) of all scams3.

Investment scams, where you’re invited to invest in something that’s worthless or doesn’t exist, have resulted in the greatest losses, making up almost a third (30 per cent) of all money lost to scammers, despite accounting for just 5 per cent of scam cases3.

Policy changes are necessary to prevent scams.

With over three quarters (78 per cent) of people agreeing that tech companies need to do more to prevent scams on their platforms, and another three quarters (76 per cent) keen to see the Government do more to hold tech companies to account1, Barclays has announced four major policy recommendations to tackle the spread of scams:

  1. Bring together a cross-Government group within the Home Office with the ability to coordinate regulators, policy makers, industry groups, and companies across different sectors to effectively fight scams. Anti-scam efforts are currently fragmented, with many different groups working in siloes. However, this single Government group would work with Anthony Browne MP, the Government’s Anti-Fraud Champion, to introduce a system that takes a complete view of scams, from where this crime starts, to how we can support victims.
  2. Make the prevention of scams mandatory, particularly for tech companies, instead of the voluntary measures currently proposed by the Government. Tech companies are currently not liable for scams – we believe this needs to change through relevant regulation and legislation.
  3. Make organisations publish their scams data to inform consumers of the risks involved in using their platforms. Ofcom should make tech companies publish data on the scams happening on their platforms, and the Payment Systems Regulator should also make payment service providers (PSPs) publish their data on the sources of scams. This should be in addition to the data that PSPs, including banks, are already required to publish.
  4. Create a victim reimbursement fund, financed by all firms whose systems and platforms are used to perpetrate scams, including tech companies and banks. The reimbursement of scam victims is essential; however, it is currently just banks that fund this, despite tech platforms being the source of 87 per cent of scams2. This will also act as a financial incentive for organisations, ensuring that they make scam prevention a top priority.

Matt Hammerstein, CEO of Barclays UK, said: “With so much of everyone’s lives now being online – from staying connected with friends and family, to shopping – it’s important that people feel safe on the platforms they use.

“Our data shows that tech platforms – particularly social media – are now the source of almost all scams. However, there is no current legislative or regulatory framework obliging the tech sector to support the prevention of these crimes, as there rightly is for banks.

“Barclays’ policy recommendations aim to tackle the nation’s scams epidemic by ensuring that organisations with the power to prevent scams are working together far more effectively.

“Without the joint help of tech organisations, the Government, and regulators, we risk enabling the unchecked growth of what is now the most common crime in the UK, hurting countless individuals, and costing our economy billions each year.

“We can only drive back this epidemic – and protect UK competitiveness – by stopping scams at their source, preventing the flow of funds to organised crime.”

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1. Censuswide consumer research study of 2,000 participants, July 2023.

2.Tech platform enabler data for the period of January – May 2023

3. Average volume of unique customers reporting scams for the period of January – June 2023.

About Barclays

Barclays is a British universal bank. We are diversified by business, by different types of customer and client, and geography. Our businesses include consumer banking and payments operations around the world, as well as a top-tier, full service, global corporate and investment bank, all of which are supported by our service company which provides technology, operations and functional services across the Group. For further information about Barclays, please visit our website


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