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TSB reveals fraud losses for young and elderly victims as it warns over common and emerging scams

27th August 2020


TSB is highlighting the most common and emerging scams that its youngest and older customers have fallen victim to, as it reveals average losses and highlights the vital support it has given to customers through its leading Fraud Refund Guarantee.

For example, TSB analysis¹ showed average losses for over 65s of £7,500 for ‘green deal’ scams where people are duped by the promise of energy efficient equipment.

Meanwhile, 16-21s lost £1,100 on average to investment fraud – a scam not typically associated with this age group.

Since lockdown and the change in economic conditions, TSB has also seen a spike in cases of Employment scams and Purchase scams for young people.

In the over 65s bracket, Pension & Investment fraud saw a rise in cases; alongside the spike in emerging green deal scams.

While criminals target bank customers of all ages, they often focus on those more vulnerable to fraud, such as the elderly and the young.

The overall economic cost of fraud during Covid-19 is highlighted by Action Fraud figures showing over £14 million2 lost to Covid-19 scams alone.

Since its introduction in April 2019, TSB’s Fraud Refund Guarantee3 has reimbursed over 99% of all authorised push payment fraud cases and remains a vital protection for customers of all ages – especially the most vulnerable.

For 16-21 year olds, TSB is warning:
  • Purchase scams remain a huge problem for young people and spiked during the pandemic - with victims commonly scammed by fake products offered for sale on the likes of Facebook and Snapchat. TSB reimbursed cases including an £8.90 eyebrow kit advertised on Instagram, and a £400 deposit paid on a car, also on Instagram.
  • Employment scams have also spiked due to the changing economic conditions. Victims fall for fake job adverts, pay for background checks for a role that never existed or simply give data away that leads to fraud on platforms such as LinkedIn and Total Jobs. Losses average around £400, meaning young people simply seeking work would be left hard-hit without reimbursement.
  • Emerging scams include Foreign exchange scams where criminals capitalise on young people looking for a great deal for foreign currency online ahead of their holidays. Losses average £250 and could scupper holiday plans.
  • Surprisingly, a significant number of young people fell victim to investment scams – investing student loans and inheritances into high risk offers, such as cryptocurrency, which turn out to be fraudulent. Losses for young people average £1,100.

One such victim, a woman in her early 20s from the South East, was defrauded out of £11,900 in an Instagram ‘Bitcoin’ investment scam. The criminals promised significant profits but demanded more funds due to taxation issues. When contact suddenly stopped, the woman realised the ‘company’ she had been dealing with was simply a scam.

For older customers, 65 or over:
  • Pension & Investment scams remain a pressing issue for elderly customers and spiked during the pandemic as victims seek more from their pensions and better financial security in later years. Losses for this age group average £1,200.
  • Safe account scams frequently see high losses (£8,500 average) as convincing fraudsters create a sense of urgency over the phone while posing as a bank’s fraud team, or the Police, and request that money is transferred into a ‘safe’ account.
  • TSB is also warning over emerging green deal scams where criminals promise to install energy efficient equipment, like solar panels, part funded by a government grant – but instead scam the victims with an average loss of £7,500.
  • A significant number of older people fall victim to romance scams – looking for companionship online but being duped out of an average £6,000. This scam can be devastating both financially and emotionally.

A male customer in his early 80s from rural Scotland was defrauded in a romance scam for £4,150, after a fraudster had built a rapport with the victim over a couple of months through a messaging app. The fraudster claimed they urgently needed money with an emotive story about the need to help her granddaughter. And when the victim paid, contact quickly stopped.

As well as reimbursement, TSB reaches out to scam victims with support and educational measures. Under the Fraud Refund Guarantee, victims often prove open and willing to provide in-depth information about the scam that assists TSB’s Pursuit strategy in tracking down the criminals behind the attacks.

Intelligence shared by victims is quickly used to further educate customers, and to help the Police and other agencies in their own prevention efforts.

Ashley Hart, Head of Fraud, TSB, said:
“For victims of fraud, getting your money back can be the difference between having your life devastated, or being able to move on from the crime, which is why our pledge to reimburse all innocent victims is so crucial.

“Fraudsters constantly adapt their tactics and target specific age groups in different ways as they aim to steal life-changing sums from their victims. Online platforms such as social media companies are fertile ground for criminals – leaving users facing significant risk of harm.”
Citizens Advice Scotland Financial Health spokesperson, Myles Fitt said:
“The Citizens Advice network in Scotland has been campaigning for years on scams and we often see how people are impacted by them.

“People who are hit by a scam are not just worse off financially. They tend to suffer mentally as well, feeling a sense of embarrassment and loss of confidence.

“If such people can get back the money they lost that would certainly help them a lot, so we are very supportive of TSB’s approach.”


Media Contacts


Matthew Hepburn, Media Relations Manager 
T: 07483 431 309| 

TSB Media Relations 
T: 020 7003 9369 | 
Follow us on twitter: @TSB_News


Notes to editors


Fraud prevention tips from TSB:

  • Never respond to cold calls offering pension reviews. If you want to review your pension, consult a qualified, independent financial advisor (you can check for a list), or speak directly with your current pension provider. You can also check the pensions advisory service online, but please remember that they never make outbound calls – so if you receive one, it’s a scam and you should hang up immediately.
  • Fraudsters use social media to target younger people with things for sale, such as iPhones and other tech, as well as designer clothing, all the time – the goods don’t exist and you’ll lose your money. Only buy from trusted sellers, and if a seller won’t take a card as payment then be very suspicious. Do your research – and check reviews of the seller. If they’re bad, or there aren’t any, don’t make a payment. Finally, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • You can help an older friend or relative to stay safe by installing a call blocker, such as BT Call Protect, Sky’s Talk Shield or TalkTalk’s CallSafe on their line. It’s also important to remind them that they should never be rushed into sending money anywhere, no matter how urgent the caller says it is. Let them know to hang up and call you – or their bank directly – for advice first.
  • Being suspicious of every contact that comes out of the blue is the best way to stay safe. Question everything – there is never a need to rush to keep your money safe, or to invest it. Legitimate companies will never put you under that sort of pressure. Stop and check with your bank, friends or family, before sending money to somebody if there’s any reason to be suspicious. Always check and verify a caller – if somebody claims to be calling from your bank, just hang up and call back on the number on the back of your bank card.

1 Average losses were calculated from analysis of TSB customer data. Employment scams and foreign exchange scam average data was informed by industry data sharing. Case study losses are included for purchase scams due to the diverse range of losses.

2 Figures supplied by Action Fraud from March 16th – July 31st.

  • Total reports of COVID-19 related fraud to Action Fraud = 3,261
  • Associated losses = £14,212,629
  • Total reports of COVID-19 related phishing to Action Fraud = 15,019

3 Further information on the Fraud Refund Guarantee.

Since its introduction in April 2019, TSB has reimbursed every innocent victim ranging from a 16 year old to a 97 year old victim, in line with the terms of the Guarantee.

TSB customers will need to contact the bank to report fraud by calling the number on the back of their card or 0800 096 8669, and TSB continues to robustly investigate the circumstances of the claim and how the fraud has happened. This enables TSB to give good advice to customers to keep them safe, as well as supporting our work with law enforcement.

TSB will not repay losses that arise due to first party fraud, or where the customer is acting illegally. Customers that abuse the Fraud Refund Guarantee, for example by ignoring account safety advice, may be excluded from the Guarantee.

TSB will not refund losses for retrospective claims; the Fraud Refund Guarantee applies to fraud losses incurred on or after Sunday 14 April 2019.

The guarantee covers authorised and unauthorised transactions for claims meeting the criteria; for authorised transactions the guarantee is limited to £1 million per claim.