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Under-45s more likely than older people to fall victim to financial fraud, according to permanent tsb’s latest “Reflecting Ireland” consumer research in advance of Black Friday and Christmas shopping period

Research shows “romance fraud” is the most lucrative type of financial fraud

Under-45s are more likely than older people to fall victim to financial fraud, according to permanent tsb’s latest quarterly research on consumer attitudes and perceptions.

In advance of Black Friday, one of the busiest online shopping days of the year, and the run-in to the Christmas shopping period, the latest permanent tsb “Reflecting Ireland” research revealed the importance of consumer awareness of financial fraud and what to do to protect against it, as three quarters of us (75%) have experienced an attempted financial fraud and over a quarter (27%) have been victims.

The research also revealed that we are more likely to experience fraud attempts seeking to take less than €500 rather than larger amounts.

Almost two thirds (64%) of incidents involve amounts of €500 or less, 15% involve amounts of €501-€1,000, 12% amounts of €1,001-€5,000, and 10% amounts greater than €5,000.

The most common types of financial fraud are “vishing” (phone call / voice message), “smishing” (text message) and “phishing” (email). Other common scams relate to lottery wins, inheritance, investment, so-called “romance fraud” (where an individual is persuaded to give a fraudster money under the pretext of establishing a relationship), ticket sales or property rental.

Despite being one of the less common types of financial fraud, the research found romance fraud is the most lucrative form of fraud, with [approximately 60%] of cases relating to amounts of more than €500 – almost double the rate of other types of fraud.

Reflecting Ireland is a quarterly research series from permanent tsb which examines topical issues.  The research was undertaken by BehaviourWise in October 2022 amongst [~1,100] adults. 

Key findings

  • Contrary to popular perception, older people are less likely than younger people to fall victim to financial fraud. The over-45 age group makes up 52% of the adult population but only accounts for 37% of victims, while the over-65 age group makes up 18% of the population but just 11% of victims. Financial fraud is more likely to be experienced by people living in Dublin than in other parts of the country.
  • Older people are twice as likely as young people to check their bank accounts every week to guard against fraudulent transactions. 80% of over-65s say they do this, compared with 40% of 18-24 year olds.
  • People rely on a wide variety of sources to find out about financial scams. 26% say they find out about scams from social media first, marginally ahead of the 24% who find out from banks and other financial institutions, and 23% who do so from traditional media.
  • 75% of respondents have experienced an attempted financial fraud and 27% have been victims of fraud, with more than 1 in 7 falling victim in the last year alone.
  • Of those that have been a victim of financial fraud, 57% were victims in the past year and 30% were victims in the last six months alone
  • 82% of people believe financial fraud is becoming more sophisticated and harder to spot
  • Men are twice as likely as women to say they rarely or never check whether an unfamiliar website is legitimate by looking for online or social media reviews of the site (29% of men vs 14% women).
  • 83% of people always or sometimes check for a secure payment symbol when buying online but 14% never do
  • People’s experience of attempted financial fraud incidents tends to come through phone calls or text messages, closely followed by email, with between 57% and 62% of respondents saying they had experience of these types of fraud attempts. 33% have been exposed to lottery scams, 18% romance scams and 13% rental scams.
  • 72% of respondents say they would report financial fraud to their bank or financial institution, with 49% to the Gardai and 48% would tell friends or family.

Other findings of the research

  • Reflecting Ireland also examines consumers’ attitudes towards the economy and their own personal financial situation.
  • Despite the resilience of the economy at a national level, and Ireland achieving second position as one of the best countries to live in 2022, this quarter’s research found consumer sentiment remains downbeat in light of the ongoing cost of living challenges that have emerged in recent months.
  • 64% of people say they feel worse off than this time last year, (up from 50% in August) with 55% of people expecting to be worse off next year (up from 47% in August) and only 13% expecting to be better off (down from 21% in August).
  • 70% expect the economic situation to deteriorate over the next year, with less than 1 in 10 expecting it to improve.
  • 83% say the cost of living is among the top 3 most pressing issues to be addressed in Ireland today, far head of other issues such as housing (47%), homelessness (45%), healthcare (44%), and affordable rents (33%).
  • Covid-19 has largely fallen away as an issue on people’s minds, with 9% citing it as a key concern now, versus 33% a year ago.

permanent tsb Head of Corporate Affairs Leontia Fannin said:

“There is a clear message in our research that financial fraud is a significant threat and that it is often being targeted at groups that may think they are less vulnerable. Awareness of financial fraud is strong but scams are getting more sophisticated and we need to continue to be on our guard.

The best way to combat financial fraud is by combining the anti-fraud measures employed by banks with greater public awareness of the many different types of fraud. Always trust your instinct and call your bank if something feels wrong.”

Commenting on the research, behavioural scientist Claire Cogan said:

“Our research shows a pattern to financial fraud that may surprise people. While anyone can be a victim, younger age groups and people living in Dublin appear more likely to be victims of financial fraud.

Reassuringly we see people are responding to advice to be vigilant; two thirds say they would not trust an unsolicited call, text or email even if it came from a well-known brand, and over 8 out of 10 agree their bank would never send a text message asking them to click on a link.  However we cannot be complacent given the increasingly sophisticated methods employed by fraudsters, particularly as we head into the busy Christmas shopping season.”

Download the full Reflecting Ireland report here. 

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