73 per cent of adults have received a scam email in the past year, making it the most common scam approach, research has found.
According to a study by the Office of Fair Trading, social media sites are also an emerging route for scammers to contact targets. Eight per cent of adults have been approached this way, while 12 per cent had received scam text messages.
The OFT also found that 21 per cent had been sent a scam letter.
Over four million people said they had responded to a scam, with almost a third of them losing money. Of those, 49 per cent lost over £50, while five per cent lost more than £5,000.
The release of the figures is part of the OFT’s Scams Awareness Month, which aims to raise awareness of the scale of the problem.
John Fingleton, chief executive of the OFT, said: “Scammers are using ever more sophisticated and cunning tactics to dupe people out of their cash. We want people to recognise the warning signs, and feel confident enough to seek advice from friends and family or from Consumer Direct.”
Consumer Minister Kevin Brennan added: “It is really important that people are on their guard and know that help is available as scams can bring real upset and misery to their victims. We have invested £7.5 million to create 'scambuster' teams across the country. These specialist Trading Standards teams are working hard with the Police and others across local authority boundaries to come down hard on the worst scammers.”
The OFT study follows security firm Sophos' announcement that malware attacks on social networking sites had increased 70 per cent.