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Scams and Subjective wellbeing

This report sets out the findings of Which? research on the link between scam victimisation and personal wellbeing. Using data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, we find that being a scam victim is associated with significantly lower levels of life satisfaction, lower levels of happiness and higher levels of anxiety. Applying standard valuation techniques, we show that these wellbeing harms extend well beyond estimates of financial losses.

Which? is concerned that the impacts of scams on victims have long been underestimated. When talking about the ‘costs’ of fraud or scams, the conversation is often dominated by the financial losses suffered by victims, with the psychological impacts considered as a separate issue.

Our new research analyses more than 17,000 responses to the Office for National Statistics’s Crime Survey for England and Wales between 2017 and 2020 to examine the connection between scams and wellbeing. After controlling for a range of other factors, we find that being a scam victim is associated with significantly lower levels of life satisfaction, lower levels of happiness and higher levels of anxiety. 

We estimate that this lower level of life satisfaction is equivalent to an average impact of £2,509 per victim, when valued using an approach in HM Treasury’s guidance on wellbeing analysis, much higher than the average financial loss suffered. With 3.7 million incidents of fraud experienced in 2019-20, we estimate that the total losses in wellbeing associated with fraud victimisation amount to £9.3 billion per year.

Scams and subjective wellbeing report 271 Kb | 08 Nov 2021