Victims of fraud with mental health issues 'less likely get money back'

fraud EMBARGOED TO 0001 THURSDAY APRIL 28 File photo dated 30/03/20 of a woman using a laptop as she holds a bank card, as the head of an influential group of MPs has said the Government might have missed an opportunity by not bringing fraud investigations into one law enforcement agency.
Fraud victims with a diagnosed mental health problem are more at risk. Photo: PA

Victims of fraud with mental health problems are less likely to get their money back and twice as likely to fall into debt due to scams, according to Which?

The consumer group surveyed more than 1,000 fraud victims and found that six in 10 (58%) with a diagnosed mental health problem got all or some of their money back.

This is compared to two thirds (68%) of victims with no mental health condition.

One in three (31%) had to borrow money from friends or family, compared to one in five (18%) with no diagnosed mental health condition, and were twice as likely to borrow money from a bank (11% compared to only 5%).

Read more: One in four Britons have fallen victim to a scam since May

They were almost twice as likely to not have enough money for essentials (29%) and go into debt (26%) as a result of fraud compared to victims with no mental health conditions (15% and 12% respectively).

One fraud victim told Which?: “It was horrific. I lost my job because of it, and a lot of other things in my personal life went downhill. It wasn’t a pleasant experience at all and I still feel like it impacts my trust in people.”

Another said: “I feel stupid and ashamed to be scammed. It has affected how I see myself and has led to bouts of depression and anxiety."

A third victim said: “It was the first time I really trusted this misleading website and I was overwhelmed by self-criticism. Luckily my bank dealt with it very quickly and returned all the money taken out. It would be nice if there was a phone number to chat about this experience to get counselling to soothe my anxiety.”

A fourth said: “It has destroyed my mental health completely as fraud happened to me three times in a year. I'm still paying for it mentally and financially.”

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “Our survey shows fraud victims experiencing mental health problems are being failed, with devastating effects on their wellbeing and finances.

“New rules to make reimbursement of bank transfer fraud mandatory can’t come soon enough. They must be backed with tough enforcement measures for any banks that flout them and fail to treat their customers fairly.”

Read more: Scams cost victims over £1.3bn last year

Under recent proposals from the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), banks will be forced to reimburse anyone who loses more than £100 to bank transfer or payment fraud, apart from in exceptional circumstances.

Which? said this should mean the vast majority of victims are fully reimbursed – putting an end to the “reimbursement lottery” they face.

At present, many banks are signed up to a voluntary code to reimburse victims of bank transfer scams and some have their own reimbursement guarantees.

Watch: How to avoid Cyber Criminals