Scams linked to parcel deliveries come top in 2023

  • Scams linked to parcel deliveries, banking and online shopping come top in 2023

  • 40 million people targeted by scammers so far this year

Parcel delivery scams are by far the most common scam faced by the public so far this year. That’s according to new research from Citizens Advice released today as part of its Scams Awareness campaign.

Almost half of people (49%) targeted by scammers had been on the receiving end of a malicious parcel delivery scam, with scammers attempting to get hold of personal information or bank details. 

The charity’s research reveals that 40 million people have been targeted by scams already in 2023.

Several of the most frequently encountered forms of scams involve quite sophisticated impersonation of official organisations.

Top five scams of 2023 to date

  1. Parcel delivery scams (49%) - texts or emails claiming to be from a delivery company to reschedule or pay additional delivery fees in an attempt to get people’s personal information or bank details. Or false tracking information is given for items bought online, which never arrive. 

  2. Banking scams (29%) - correspondence claiming to be from one of the banks attempting to get people’s bank details

  3. Online shopping scams (25%) - items bought online which never arrive, often once the seller has the money they block all contact from the buyer. This can also happen with sales through social media and apps   

  4. Investment scams (24%) - get-rich-quick schemes

  5. Tax or government support related scams (24%) - correspondence claiming to be from the government about support available for energy bills, and asking for personal information including bank details. 

The charity’s data revealed over-75s were the most commonly targeted, with 87% facing a scam and most often via telephone. The next most at risk age-group was 18-24 years, with 84% targeted and usually via text or mobile messaging. This demonstrates how scammers attempt to tailor their approaches to take advantage of their targets. 

“I can’t tell you how stressful it’s been. It’s caused so much heartache”

Victoria*, 26 years old, from Lancashire was left thousands of pounds out of pocket after being scammed when buying a car via an online marketplace.

She said: “It all seemed very legit, the contact seemed very, very real. I haven’t seen any negative reviews about the company so I just thought it was fine.” 

Victoria researched the company and car and transferred £3325. However, the car never arrived, and she then saw it re-advertised at different locations, up to twenty times in a matter of days.

She said: “When I confronted the man who sold it to me he was very, very cold. Now they’ve changed all their numbers and email addresses. 

“I can’t tell you how stressful it’s been. It’s caused so much heartache and I haven’t even been able to face telling my mum and my dad about what’s happened. The scammers shouldn't be able to get away with it.”

Citizens Advice Consumer Service received over 9,000 reports of scams between January to April 2023. The charity is urging more people to report scams to help protect others from falling victim. 

*Name has been changed to protect identity.

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Anyone can be targeted by a scam and sadly anyone can fall for one. 

“As scammers get ever more sophisticated it’s more important than ever that we all work together to raise awareness, report scams and share our experiences to help protect ourselves from their tricks.”

John Herriman, Chief Executive at Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said:  

“Scams cause immense stress to people of all ages and often result in huge financial loss. While anyone can be targeted by a scam, we can all make ourselves and each other safer by following some helpful guidelines to check the legitimacy of our transactions, parcels and messages. It’s vital to spread awareness about the harm caused by scammers, and Trading Standards will continue to work with partners to keep the public informed and protected.”

Mike Andrews, National Co-ordinator, National Trading Standards eCrime team, said:

“When it comes to used cars, more people than ever are looking to online marketplaces to grab a deal. Criminals are taking advantage of this, luring customers in with genuine-looking listings at temptingly low prices, and tricking them into handing over money before making off with the cash. The sums involved mean many victims are robbed of their savings and suffer severe financial and emotional distress as a result.

“We urge people looking to buy a used car via an online marketplace to arrange to collect the car, and check it over before handing over any money. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam while buying a used car online, you should report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service, or to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.”

There are steps you can take to better protect yourself and your loved ones. Jane Parsons, Citizens Advice consumer expert, has top tips to spot scams: 

  • It seems too good to be true – for example, a holiday that’s much cheaper than you’d expect.

  • You’ve been pressured to transfer money quickly. 

  • You’ve been asked to pay in an unusual way – like by an iTunes voucher or a transfer service. 

  • You’ve been asked to give away personal information such as passwords, PINs or  verification codes.

  • You spot signs that the organisation or person you are dealing with isn’t genuine - perhaps the email address doesn’t seem quite right. Always step back and double check if you have any doubts at all.

If you’ve been scammed: 

  • Talk to your bank or card company immediately if you’ve handed over any financial and sensitive information or made a payment

  • Report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 204

  • You can also contact the Citizens Advice consumer service for help with what to do next.

Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice commissioned consumer research with Walnut Omnibus. They surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2022 adults living in the UK. Fieldwork took place between 28 April to 2nd May 2023. The figures have been weighed and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

  2. Scams Awareness is a campaign aiming to: give people skills to identify scams; encourage people to share their experiences with scams; help people gain the confidence to report scams. The campaign is led by Citizens Advice in collaboration with the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP).

  3. Citizens Advice is made up of the national charity Citizens Advice; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.

  4. Our network of charities offers impartial advice online, over the phone, and in person, for free. 

  5. Citizens Advice helped 2.55 million people face to face, over the phone, by email and webchat in 2021-22. And we had 40.6 million visits to our website. For full service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.

  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 18,500 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.

  7. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 for Welsh language speakers.

  8. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is a national not for profit established in 1881 which supports the UK’s trading standards profession, and works to protect consumers and safeguard honest businesses. CTSI's members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services at local authorities and in businesses.

  9. National Trading Standards delivers national and regional consumer protection enforcement. Its Board is made up of senior and experienced heads of local government trading standards from around England and Wales with an independent Chair. Its purpose is to protect consumers and safeguard legitimate businesses by tackling serious national and regional consumer protection issues.