This week, we heard the news that HMRC is warning Self Assessment customers to be on their guard after more than
570,000 scams were reported to HMRC last year.
The news comes as a wake-up call for those who use the Self Assessment service, but it’s also a grisly sign that the true scale of email, text and call scams is likely much larger than any one body is reporting. For instance, in January of this year, HMRC
reported a staggering 3,995 phone scams, while the ICO only reported 5,645 nuisance calls and texts from all sources in the same month. These figures suggest the real extent of nuisance calls is much worse than the ICO acknowledges – and hints at the number
of phone scams lurking under the surface and going unreported. When we consider scams and nuisance calls from other sources or that might not be reported to anyone, the true numbers are likely in the millions.
It also looks like emails are a huge part of the problem. There were over half a million scams of every kind reported to HMRC last year, but – in the same year – the ICO only reported 125,000 nuisance calls and texts. The difference between the two figures
is staggering – and suggests that at least some of the difference is due to a huge number of scam emails.
There needs to be coordinated action to expose the true risks of scams and spam, starting with Government bodies and regulators. However, there’s also a lot that organisations can do to prevent their customers falling victim to scams.
Customers are being bombarded with communication from all angles, and need to be certain that the emails, texts and calls they receive are genuine and trustworthy. Businesses can reassure customers by ensuring that all their communications are consistent
in style, and take place over the customer’s chosen channel. If an organisation is continuously contacting a customer via channels they do not want to be contacted through, at random times of the day and with irrelevant and impersonal messages, it becomes
all the more difficult for a customer to determine which communications they can trust.