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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.

ITV News reports that research for the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign found nearly a fifth (19%) of people feel uncomfortable saying no to a request for personal information from a stranger via email or text, rising to nearly a quarter (23%) when it comes to phone calls.

Nine in 10 (92%) people admit to saying yes sometimes because they do not want to appear rude.

Using other phrases to avoid saying no, such as “Let me think about it” or “I can’t at the moment”, can give criminals a way in.

Take Five fraud expert Tony Blake, told ITV: “Criminals are experts at pretending to be someone they are not – and can fool even the savviest of people, who don’t want to seem rude.

“If someone contacts you unprompted and asks for personal or financial information, stop and take a moment to think – even if they claim to be from an organisation you trust. Only criminals will put pressure on you to act quickly.

“Remember, it’s OK to say no and contact the organisation through a route you know to be genuine.

“The banking and finance industry works to tackle fraud on every front, through investing millions in advanced technology and working closely with the government and law enforcement to stop the criminal gangs responsible.”

Philip Robinson, retail fraud prevention director, Lloyds Bank added: “Fraudsters are sending phishing texts and emails to trick people into entering their banking details, then using them to get in touch and pretend to be their bank.

“It’s easy for scammers to put a fake logos to make you believe it’s a genuine organisation, so never ever click on links or fill in your banking and personal details – this is walking into a trap.

“Your bank or a genuine company will never ask you to move money to a different account and if anyone does, it’s definitely a scam no matter how genuine it may appear or what the caller is saying.

“Treat every email, message or call that you’re not expecting with caution. Step back and think what you are being asked before rushing into anything or talk to a friend or family member first, and pay close attention to any warnings that may appear when banking online."

Throughout Take Five Week we’ll be sharing Take Five’s Tweets and will round up their top tips on keeping fraudsters at bay at the end of the week. For more information on Take Five, the campaign and advice on fraud, visit their website.



Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).



The contents of blog posts on this website are provided for general information only and are not intended to replace specific professional advice relevant to your situation. The intention of East Midlands Cyber Resilience Centre (EMCRC) is to encourage cyber resilience by raising issues and disseminating information on the experiences and initiatives of others. Articles on the website cannot by their nature be comprehensive and may not reflect most recent legislation, practice, or application to your circumstances. EMCRC provides affordable services and Trusted Partners if you need specific support. For specific questions please contact us by email.


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