How fraudsters use time pressure to succeed in their scams

When John transferred the money, he thought he’d got a great deal. In the current market, deciding what to do with his pension lump sum hadn’t been easy, but this investment opportunity had come just at the right time and the promised returns looked great. It was only when his building society contacted him that he had second thoughts…

This example, drawn from a real case study, could be anyone you know who has a private pension. Fraudulent activity relating to pensions has doubled in the last two years and there is much more that financial institutions could do to help reduce it.

A deal too good to be true 

In this case, John was contacted by his building society. They spotted he was making an unusual transaction and recognised it was similar to other patterns of fraudulent activity of which they were aware. They told John about similar scams currently operating and asked if he would like to delay the transfer of funds, while he spoke to a friend or family member about it.

After speaking to a friend, John was on the phone first thing the next morning to say that he would like the transaction stopped; he’d realised that the deal he was promised was too good to be true and didn’t want to risk his money.

John’s reaction may seem unusual; surely a bit of time wouldn’t really change a customer’s mind? But Financial Ombudsman Service data shows that 20 per cent of customers realise within two hours that they have been scammed and 75 per cent realise and raise the alarm within a day.

Time pressure 

Extra time to think can bring clarity. Scammers deliberately put people under time pressure in order to try and get them to act in an out of character way.

Cifas is already active in helping its members to build flood defences against fraud, as well as handing out sandbags after the flood. Our challenge to the wider banking industry now is to consider introducing a greater degree of assurance into transaction processes that might just help John to protect his life savings.

Author: Age UK

Age UK is dedicated to helping everyone make the most of later life. In the UK we help more than 7 million older people each year by providing advice, combating loneliness and enabling independence. Locally, we work as part of a network of independent charities which includes Age UK, Age Cymru, Age NI and Age Scotland and over 150 local Age UK partners in England and Wales.

One thought on “How fraudsters use time pressure to succeed in their scams”

  1. I get constant scam attempts by both Email and phone currently running at over 1 a week. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the genuine from the scam’
    As far as I know I have not given short shrift to a genuine caller although it is only a matter of time I fear haha

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