- Mencap and UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign have launched a new Easy Read guide to help people with a learning disability protect themselves from scams.
- The guide focuses on romance scams and impersonation fraud, to which people with a learning disability may be more vulnerable
- A total of £76.1 million was stolen from people in the UK through impersonation scams in the first six months of 2023 alone, while £18.5 million was stolen through romance scams.
Mencap and UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign have launched a new Easy Read guide to help people with a learning disability spot the signs of scams.
A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and can mean some people have difficulty with everyday activities. Typically, people with a learning disability need more time to learn and process information, and they may need extra support to develop skills, complete tasks and interact with others. With the right support, most people with a learning disability can live happy, healthy, independent lives.
The new guide is designed to give people with a learning disability accessible advice to help protect them from scams.
It focuses on romance scams and impersonation fraud as people with a learning disability may be more at risk of being targeted, potentially missing subtle warning signs of the social engineering tactics criminals use in these crimes. These types of fraud are also more likely to involve criminals manipulating victims into making repeated payments over an extended period, leading to substantial financial loss.
Impersonation scams are one of the most common forms of Authorised Push Payment fraud, with over £76.1 million stolen through impersonation in the first six months of 2023 alone. Approximately £43.5 million of this was criminals impersonating police or bank staff to trick victims into making payments, while the remaining £32.6 million was other forms of impersonation, such as utility companies, communications providers or government departments.
Romance scams are where criminals make people they meet – often online through social media or dating websites – believe they are in a relationship in order to convince them to make payments to them. Approximately £18.5 million was stolen from victims in this way in the first six months of 2023 – a 26 per cent increase on the previous year.
Jackie O’Sullivan, Acting Chief Executive at Mencap, said: “Many people with a learning disability successfully manage their own money, which means they maintain freedom to make choices about their own lives. The outcome, then, of being a victim of fraud could come at more than just a financial cost, potentially stripping them of crucial independence and confidence.
“Providing accessible information about potential scams is one important step to protecting people with a learning disability from fraud.”
Ben Donaldson, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: “Fraud is by far the most common crime in this country, accounting for over 40 per cent of all reported offences. The ruthless criminals responsible will try to target us all. Impersonation and romance scams are among the most heartless forms of fraud because they involve the callous manipulation of the victim, which can cause emotional and psychological harm.
“We want everyone to be able to keep themselves safe from crime. That’s why we have developed this guide to ensure people with a learning disability have clear, accessible advice they can use to spot the tell-tale signs of fraud and protect themselves.”
To help people stay safe, the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign advice is to:
- STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
- CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
- PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve been scammed and report it to Action Fraud.
Notes to editors:
- Read the full easy read guide.
- Read the Take Five to Stop Fraud guide to protecting yourself from impersonation fraud and romance scams.
- Take Five to Stop Fraud is a national campaign that offers straightforward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud.
- Mencap exists to ensure the UK is the best place in the world for people with a learning disability to live happy and healthy lives. The charity supports people directly and campaigns with people with a learning disability, their families and carers. It works to change laws, increase representation and fight for better health, social care and employment opportunities for the 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK.
- Mencap’s guide to reporting on Learning Disability
- UK Finance is the collective voice for the banking and finance industry. Representing more than 300 firms across the industry, we act to enhance competitiveness, support customers and facilitate innovation.