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Younger Scots twice as likely to feel embarrassed about scams as older people

Figures released today by Citizens Advice Scotland show that there is a wide disparity in the sense of shame people feel about falling for a scam, depending on how old they are.

The figures, based on a survey carried out for CAS by YouGov, show that 31% of Scots aged 18-25 would feel embarrassed about being caught out by a scam, but only 14% for those aged over 55 would. The figure for the Scottish population in general is 21%.

Citizens Advice Scotland’s Chief Executive Derek Mitchell said,

“Every year the Citizens Advice network in Scotland helps hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom have experienced the misfortune of being scammed. We are currently running a national campaign aimed at persuading people to report scams and talk about them to their family and friends. That’s the way we will beat the scammers.

“It is worrying, and quite surprising, to find that it is younger people who are likely to feel most embarrassed about being hit by a scam. It shows there are quite a few myths around scams.

“But in a second survey, we found that 71% of Scots say scam victims should not be embarrassed, and 82% believe that scams happen because scammers are clever, not because of any fault in the people they manage to con. So nobody should feel ashamed or embarrassed: if you’ve been hit by a scam you are the victim, and there is support out there for you if you report it. Talking about it to your friends and family is also the best way to make sure none of them are hit by the same scam.”

Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot said,

“This research shows that young people in Scotland are not only vulnerable to scams, but can be hit by them emotionally as well as financially.

“Here at Young Scot we know not all young people have the same level of expertise when it comes to technology and therefore can become vulnerable when faced with a scam, so it’s important that there is a platform to promote healthy discussion for those affected.”

Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said,

"While it’s good news that older people are less likely to be embarrassed, they are still the most targeted group for fraud and scams because of their perceived vulnerability. We know that only a small minority actually report scams and many do not even tell their family and friends.

“Scams have a devastating impact on older victims, who not only lose an average of £4,500, but can also lose their confidence. It’s sickening that scammers especially target those who are living with dementia or socially isolated, who may feel they have no one to turn to.

“We need to end this stigma and urge people of all ages to speak out and help beat scammers.” 

Eve Liddle a 22-year old student in Manchester who has family links to Edinburgh, said,

“In October 2018 I got an email from HMRC about a tax rebate. I was due a rebate at the time, so I didn’t question it. I entered all the details they asked for and it said I was due £400 and I should wait for the cheque.

“After it happened, I told a friend about it and then spoke to my Mum about it. Both were a bit suspicious, so I got in touch with HMRC who said they always communicate by letter, never by email. By now I was panicking, so I rang my bank who told me there was suspicious activity on my account. They blocked all my cards, and changed all my details. 

“I was feeling really emotional. I was crying, and stressed about whether I’d done everything I could to make sure I wasn’t going to lose any money. I also felt stupid that I’d fallen for this.

“A few of weeks later I got a call from someone claiming to be from my bank. They said somebody was trying to access my account and I needed to enter my card security details so they could block it. This time I was very suspicious and spoke to my Dad, who agreed it sounded dodgy – so we called my bank, who told me it was not them and they would never call someone like this. The scammer called me back, so I told him I knew it was a scam and he put the phone down.

“Since then, I’ve been contacted by text a number of times by people who are obviously not authentic. I’ve been advised by the bank that because I gave all my personal information to the HMRC scam I will be vulnerable to scams in the future, and to be vigilant.

“I feel inconvenienced and worried, and also embarrassed about the whole thing. But I am so glad that I talked to my friend and my parents, because without them I would have lost my money. So that’s why I am speaking up now: to say that it’s OK to talk to people about scams. Let’s spread the word and stop letting the scammers get away with it.”




All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. 

Consumer Tracker Survey:

Total sample size was 2,078 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken 12th – 23rd March, 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).

For the following question, please imagine that you that had recently fallen for a scam. Which, if any of the following statements do you agree with? (Please select all that apply)

2,078 base, all Scottish adults.

Statement: I would feel embarrassed or ashamed at falling for a scam

18-24:    31%

25-34:    25%

35-44:    23%

45-54:    24%

55+:       14%


YouGov Scotland Omnibus on Stigma:

Total sample size was 1,012 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken 26th – 28th March 2019.  The survey was carried out online, as part of the YouGov Scotland Omnibus Survey. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).

Do you think that people should or should not be embarrassed about being in each of the following situation: falling victim to a scam? 

1,012 base, all Scottish adults.

71%        Should not be embarrassed

16%        Should be embarrassed

12%        Don’t know

2%          Prefer not to say


For the following questions, by "financial scams", we mean when people have been tricked into giving their money to a fraudulent individual or company. Which, if any, of the following do you think are the MAIN reasons why people become victims of financial scams? (Please select all that apply)

1,012 base, all Scottish adults.

82%        Scammers are clever (in the way they convince people to give their money etc.)

57%        It’s easy for people to be tricked when it comes to money

22%        Victims of scams aren’t paying enough attention to their money

22%        Victim of scams are just unlucky

21%        Victims of scams are greedy and have clicked on sites/ offers that promise money

2%          None of these

5%          Don’t know

1%          Prefer not to say


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