Almost 45 million people have been targeted by scam texts and calls this summer alone, Ofcom has said.
More than eight in 10 people (82%) – an estimated 44.6 million adults in the UK – have received a suspicious message in the form of a text, recorded message or live phone call to a landline or mobile over the last three months, a survey by the regulator found.
Text scams are the most common, with 71% saying they have received a suspicious text, while 75% of those aged 16 to 34 receiving one.
Some 44% who had been sent a suspicious text reported receiving such a message at least once a week.
Ofcom also found that suspicious calls continue to be a threat for landline users, with older people particularly susceptible. Some 61% of people aged 75 and over reported receiving a potential scam call to their landline.
More than half (53%) of respondents who received a suspicious live phone call on a landline over the last three months said they got a call at least once a week.
More than half of people who received a suspicious text either deleted the message (53%) or blocked the number (52%), and around half of those who received a suspicious live voice call or recorded message did the same.
But in the last three months alone, 2% – almost a million people – said they had followed the instructions in a scam message or call.
The research revealed that 79% of mobile phone users are not aware of the 7726 number to report a suspected scam text or call.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s networks and communications group director, said: “Criminals who defraud people using phone and text scams can cause huge distress and financial harm to their victims, and their tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
“Stay alert to any unsolicited contact. Put the phone down if you have any suspicion that it is a scam call, and don’t click on any links in text messages you’re unsure about. Report texts to 7726 and scam calls to Action Fraud or Police Scotland.”
– Ofcom surveyed 2,000 adults in the UK between September 18 and 19.