Researchers at the University of Bath are calling for people to take part in a study to help stamp out scams, a problem which is currently costing the British public millions of pounds a year and causing considerable distress.
The research is looking to understand more about what makes people vulnerable to scams, both at home and at work, with the aim of developing targeted awareness campaigns to better protect people from fraudsters.
Advances in technology mean that scams have become more sophisticated, putting more people at risk, yet they continue to be under reported because of the stigma of falling prey to scams.
Dr Emma Williams, from the University’s School of Management, who is leading the research alongside colleagues at the university, is urging people to set aside misplaced feelings of embarrassment and share their experiences to help others.
She said: “All the awareness campaigns in the world won’t defeat the scammers if people continue to feel ashamed about falling for their tactics, or think that it’s their fault.
“We need to reduce the stigma associated with responding to scams so that all of the ways in which these scams work can be understood.
“We don’t know enough about the mechanism that makes people susceptible to these scams, what the triggers are and how we can design interventions that will protect people.
“Until we understand the factors that affect how and why people respond to scams, it’s difficult to reduce the problem.”
While general awareness about scams is on the rise, more understanding is needed of the different factors that influence how and why people respond to them.
Dr Williams said: “When we decide whether to respond to a letter or e-mail, or to believe the person on the other end of the phone, these decisions are likely to be based on existing attitudes and beliefs.
“For instance, do you perceive a potential risk in responding to a lottery win? Do you generally trust people are who they say are on the phone? Do you often share email links? Have you ever had a bad experience clicking on a link? These factors might make you more or less likely to interact with scams that are designed to exploit these behaviours.”
Researchers in the University’s School of Management are inviting people to take part in two anonymous online surveys.
The first survey asks people about their experiences of different types of scams.
Link to survey: https://bathmanagement.az1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_3gVp1DLImepGBjT.
A second survey looks at people’s experience of a particular scam that they have been targeted by, whether they have responded to it or not.
Link to survey: https://bathmanagement.az1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9SmjFusMSPXChqR.
For questions about the research or the surveys, contact Dr Emma Williams at E.J.Williams@bath.ac.uk.
The survey will be open until Wednesday 4th May.