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People who regularly feel lonely more likely to have been scammed, survey finds

People who sometimes feel lonely are also more likely to have been scammed, research suggests.

Loneliness levels have surged during the coronavirus pandemic, with 17% of people saying they have no interaction with friends or family in a typical week, nearly tripling from 6% before March 2020.

A quarter (25%) of those who have experienced loneliness or social isolation at least once a week also said they had been scammed, the research found.

This compared with 21% of people generally who said they had fallen for a scam at some point.

People looking for love need to protect their wallet as well as their hearts

Ed Fisher, Nationwide Building Society

Of those who had been conned, 8% said it was a romance scam.

Ed Fisher, head of fraud policy at Nationwide Building Society said: “People looking for love need to protect their wallet as well as their hearts by looking out for any warning signs, doing their own background checks, and talking about their relationships with other friends and family, who have their best interests at heart.”

Even if they suspected the motives of the person they were chatting to online, more than one in 10 (12%) people said they would carry on engaging with them.

Feelings of loneliness and social isolation also play a role, with nearly a fifth (17%) of those who experience one or both at least once a week saying they would carry on chatting despite their suspicions.

Nearly half (45%) of those surveyed said they spend more time interacting on social media than in person.

While more than four fifths (82%) of people said they had experienced spells of loneliness or social isolation at some point, a fifth (20%) experience feelings of loneliness on a daily basis.

Young adults were also particularly likely to say they felt lonely or isolated.

More than nine in 10 (93%) 18 to 34-year-olds admit to feeling socially isolated or having feelings of loneliness on occasion – 11 percentage points higher than the average across all age groups.

Nationwide launched a “scam checker service” in September last year that enables its members to check a payment they are worried about either in branch or by calling 0800 030 4057. If the payment is given the go ahead and the member is scammed, Nationwide said it will fully reimburse the loss.

More than 2,000 people were surveyed across the UK.

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