Paying for politeness: people don’t like saying “no” to pushy fraudsters

This week, Take Five are running a campaign which delves into the murky waters of fraud, and looks at one of the reasons why so many people are scammed: they are simply too polite to say “no”.

Research has revealed that people will have a conversation with someone who claims to be from a trusted organisation out of sheer politeness, even when the fraudster on the other end of the line asks for money or bank details.

New data shows that these kinds of scams have doubled in the first half of 2021 to 33,115. Known as impersonation scams, criminals have stolen £129.4 million through this type of fraud alone, according to UK finance.

UK Finance raised the alarm at the beginning of this week, Take Five Week. It’s a campaign that urges people to stop to think, challenge requests from people, and protect themselves, for example by informing their bank and the police immediately, when a caller asks for their information or money.

Fraudsters will attempt to trick their victim into transferring money using a range of cover stories. These include claiming they need to protect an account from fraud, that a fine or tax needs to be paid, or that a refund sent by mistake must be returned.

And the research has uncovered a worrying trend: politeness can sometimes get in the way of people refusing to speak to fraudsters.