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Four in 10 (41%) UK adults experienced a scam attempt in the last year | Canada Life

  • 14% of these personally fell victim to the scam, equating to 3.6 million UK adults
  • On average, victims of financial scams lost £4,715, or £17.0 billion nationwide1
  • 8 million UK adults have been targeted or know someone that has been targeted in the last 12 months2
  • Young people are more likely to have lost money through a scam

New research3 from Canada Life can reveal that one in two (51%) UK adults have or know someone who has experienced a financial scam attempt in the last 12 months. This equates to approximately 26.8 million UK adults. Of these, 3.6 million went on to personally fall victim to the scam.

The average amount lost to scams was £4,715 per person, or £17.0 billion as a nation. More than two in five victims (43%) got all their money back, but over a quarter (26%) unfortunately didn’t recover any of their stolen funds.

The top three financial scam types are tax or debt collection (32%), advance fee scam (25%) e.g., someone tells you are inheriting a sum of money that requires you to pay an upfront fee or provide your bank details, and “hello mum” scams (23%) when a scammer poses as a child or grandchild requesting an urgent bill or payment to be made. Most people (40%) have been targeted to part ways with their hard-earned money, via email, text or voicemail - otherwise known as phishing, smishing or vishing.

Julia Peake, tax and estate planning specialist at Canada Life, commented:

“With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to squeeze many households, it’s a real field day for criminals and scammers to target vulnerable people. They are opportunistic and play on insecurities, Family connections and fear, taking advantage of crises and market disruptions both home or around the world, and the number of people being targeted seems to be going up.

“With the development of AI and fake adverts, the range of communication and types of financials scams becoming ever more intrusive and sophisticated Martin Lewis recently was a victim of this and took to the airwaves to air his concern and raise awareness with the public[1]

“If you experience a scam attempt, or if you fall victim to one, the best thing you can do is to speak up and report it. Unfortunately, the reality is that many people could be caught up in these  so should you fall victim, know that you are not alone and these criminal scammers can only be held accountable and brought to justice if the authorities and platforms know about it.”

Scammers do not age discriminate.

The findings show that those who are aged 55 or over are more likely to have been targeted (48%) in a scam attempt but are less likely to have been a victim and lost money (9%) than younger demographics. A greater proportion of young people (in the 18–34 bracket) have personally fallen victim to a financial scam (18%) than those in an older age group.

Brits are conscientious of AI enabling scammers.

Of those who experienced a scam attempt, 7% said this was via AI. Two in three (67%) UK adults agreed that AI will make financial scams more sophisticated, while half (48%) believe AI will make it more likely that they would fall for a financial scam.

Some do not speak up following scam attempts.

Three in ten (30%) didn’t contact anybody after experiencing a financial scam attempt, rising to 38% amongst those aged 55 or over. For those that did seek support, the most common source approached were the victim’s bank (28%), the police or related organisations (14%), family members (10%), the platform where they experienced the scam attempt (10%), or the person or business that the scammer was purporting to be (9%).


Tips to help avoid financial scams.

  1. If you receive an offer to help you access your pension savings before age 55, for example through ‘pension loans’ and ‘free pension reviews’, don’t engage. It is usually only possible to access your pension after age 55 except in rare situations, for example if you are very ill.
  2. Warnings that the deal is limited, and you must act now. This is a pressure tactic, and making any financial decisions should not be done under pressure.
  3. HMRC will never contact you by email, phone or text informing you of a tax refund, so simply delete or ignore any contact made this way – HMRC will only contact you via post.
  4. You are discouraged from seeking professional financial advice or talking to Pension Wise or The Money and Pensions Service.
  5. If you are called and you think there is something not right, simply hang up the phone, never give anyone access to your devices/ download apps so they can access your devices and see your screen or mobile phone, they may be able to access your online banking and lock you out.
  6. Sign up for Action Fraud Alert, a free service provided by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. The service alerts about new types of crime or those which are increasing in their severity. If you sign up, you will receive those alerts which are relevant to you. .
  7. Most phone providers are part of a scheme that allows customers to report suspicious text messages for free by forwarding it to 7726. If you forward a text to 7726, your provider can investigate the origin of the text and arrange to block or ban the sender if it's found to be malicious.
  8. Contact by somebody who is not on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Register. The Register is a public record of all the regulated firms and individuals in the financial services industry, including pension providers and investment companies
  9. Be extremely cautious around any recommendation to take a large amount of money, or your whole pension pot, in a lump sum and invest it elsewhere, for example in overseas property, forestry, car parking or storage units. And be very wary of unsolicited offers of ‘amazing investment returns.
  10. Seek professional financial advice. A regulated financial adviser will be able to explain the rules and tax implications of different options and help you make the best choices for your personal circumstances, so be very suspicious if this is discouraged.
  11. There can be significant tax implications if you choose to cash in your pension in one go, so check the tax position before you make any decisions. Tax calculators are available online including:
  12. Check for known scams and use the tools to help identify a potential scam.


Press enquiries should be directed to:

Elle McAtamney, Canada Life,, 07913568213

Notes to Editors

  1. 6m people personally fell victims to scams multiplied by the average amount they personally lost (£4,715) = £17.0bn (or £16,974,000,000)
  2. 1,012/ 2,000 = 51% of UK adults have been targeted or know someone that has. (Q2). The UK adult population (18+) is 52.9m and 51% of these is 26.8m
  3. Source: Research among 2000 UK adults conducted by Opinium, with fieldwork between 7th – 11th July 2023.

About Canada Life:

Canada Life is part of a group of companies controlled by Great-West Lifeco Inc., a diversified financial services holding company headquartered in Winnipeg, Canada. Through its subsidiary companies, Lifeco has operations in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Great-West Lifeco and its insurance subsidiaries have received strong ratings from major rating agencies. Great-West Lifeco has over 30 million customers worldwide and £1.341 trillion assets under administration (as at 31.12.21).

Canada Life Limited began operations in the United Kingdom in 1903 and looks after the retirement, investment and protection needs of individuals and companies alike.

Canada Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England and Wales no. 973271. Registered office: Canada Life Place, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire EN6 5BA. Canada Life Platform Limited, trading as Canada Life, is a subsidiary of The Canada Life Group (UK) Limited and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England and Wales no. 8395855. Registered office: Canada Life Place, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire EN6 5BA.