Eskenzi PR recently released a 2023 Cost of Living Crisis survey, which aimed to understand how Britons – and the cybercriminals who target them – have been coping with the seemingly ever-worsening cost of living crisis.
The results of the survey found that, online scammers are acutely aware of the state of the nation, with a shocking 44% of respondents stating that they have seen an uptick in online scams hitting their inboxes since the cost of living crisis began in late 2021/early 2022. The cybercriminals who create these scams will not exist in a vacuum: they will be aware that the chaos caused by the crisis, and the stretched budgets at many households could lead more individuals to fall victim to a scam out of desperation. This statistic is corroborated by arguably the most Internet-literate and savvy age group, 25-35 year olds, over half of whom (52%) reported an uptick in scams.
Another worrying finding is this uptick in scams is proving devastatingly effective for scammers: Over one in ten (13%) of UK respondents have already been scammed since the cost of living crisis began. This rises to a Quarter (26%) of respondents in the 18-25 age range, reflecting a hyper-online lifestyle and culture which scammers can work to exploit effectively.
Perhaps most disturbingly is the desperate atmosphere in which these scammers operate is breeding further desperation amongst the general public: One in five Brits also admitted they would be willing to explore ‘get rich quick’ schemes as the cost of living crisis deepens in Awful April. This worrying trend is highest amongst 18-24 year olds (36%) and 25-34 year olds (39%), reflecting how Britain’s endemic problem of generational wealth inequality is also working in favour of the fraudsters and criminals who are too often behind these scams.
“The statistics reflected in this survey are a serious cause for concern, and confirm what those in the cybersecurity industry already know: That in times of uncertainty and chaos, the criminals targeting us online become even more emboldened,” said Yvonne Eskenzi, Founder and Director at Eskenzi PR. “As the cost of living crisis continues to make life increasingly difficult for those struggling to get by, the cybersecurity industry can help in its own small way by ensuring that scams are properly stopped and identified, and that the general public are educated on the tell-tales signs of a scam.”
Top tips for identifying and avoiding fraudulent emails or texts include:
- Checking the email address against known legitimate communications from an organisation
- Not clicking on unverified links
- Checking the message for spelling errors or typos
- Checking the legitimacy of a domain
- Doing a quick search to see if any similar message has been reported online as a scam
- See if the message conveys a sense of urgency: If it does, it is more likely to be a scam
- Check if this is the first communication you’ve had from the sender; this is often suspicious
This survey was conducted by Censuswide , polling 1000 UK residents.