boom of scams. Three million customers defrauded in one year

It will be the effect of war. And the crazy prices of light and gas. But in the last year on the bills there has been a real boom in scams. Over 3.1 million Italians have been deceived in some way. In the most disparate ways: from the unsolicited activation of contracts up to the payment of totally fictitious invoices to non-existent companies. The estimates were made by Facile.it together with the research institutes mUp Research and Norstat. And it is a research that presents more than one surprise. For example, it is not the elderly who are deceived, as you might imagine, but above all the thirty-forty-year-olds. Second surprise: these are mainly educated people who have a degree.

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THE ANALYSIS

«It is not strange that the victims of such offenses they are often people with a high level of education, ”he explains Gianluca Castelnuovofull professor of clinical psychology at Cattolica di Milan and at the IRCCS Istituto Auxologico Italiano, «because», he says, «the scams use sophisticated persuasion techniques that act on several levels (cognitive, emotional, etc.). If on the cognitive side “, explains Castelnuovo,” we can defend ourselves, when emotions come into play we are more vulnerable and we risk overestimating our ability to detect scam signals “.
The economic damage for the scammed is significant. Following the scams in the area of ​​electricity and gas users, as evidenced by the analysis carried out on a representative sample of the national population, the Italians have lost over 505 million euros, with an average damage of 162 euros per defrauded. Falling into the traps is not that complicated. There are decidedly trivial but equally effective methods. The phone rings, the voice on the other end says, for example, are you Mr. Mario Rossi? It is almost automatic to answer with a “yes”. But that same yes, with the cut and paste allowed by the software will be enough to accept any type of contract. Sometimes there are skilled door-to-door salespeople posing as employees of the company that supplies the meters. If they get the Pod, the number that identifies the supply printed on the bill, that’s it. With that code you even risk ending up in a whirlwind of serial transfers.

But there are also more sophisticated techniques, such as email phishing. And lately that via text message and above all via Whatsapp is spreading a lot. In these cases, users, even the most educated, tend to lower their guard considerably, considering these communication channels as “personal” and therefore reliable. In several cases, they send their Pod and find a new supply contract headed. But sometimes they get real bogus invoices. Bills that look like those of your supplier but that direct payments to the scammers’ current accounts.
The issue of unsolicited activations is not unknown to supervisors. The Arera has foreseen a cross-check. Once the contract with a third party call center has been signed, the electricity or gas company is obliged to call back the customer to verify the real desire to change supplier. However, things don’t always go smoothly. Also because not infrequently those who offer “fake” contracts do so by promoting very discounted rates which then turn out to be not real. In short, the scam is discovered only on the first bill. When it’s too late. “Too much confidence or the distraction that each of us can have are often the main reasons why we fall into the trap”, explains Tobias Stuber, CEO of Facile.it. The offers portal has also prepared a podcast with a sort of vademecum to avoid falling into scams.

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THE PRECAUTIONS

“Taking a few simple precautions”, continues Stuber, “can protect us from fraud by allowing us to fully enjoy the advantages offered by the numerous channels through which we can save on the main family spending items”. But what are the main channels used by the evildoers. When it comes to electricity and gas, emails and text messages are the main tools used by criminals. In this context, for example, among the channels most used by scammers are fake call centers (44%) and door-to-door visits (31%). As mentioned, the Italians scammed, according to the research, are over 3 million. But this is probably an underestimated figure. According to the survey, 54% of those who fall into the trap do not report fraud, a value even higher than the average recorded in the other items of household expenditure under investigation, where those who do not report are 41.5% of the scammed. For what reasons is not done? 30% said they did not do it because the economic damage was low, while 26% said they were sure they would not recover what they lost. But there is more. “We have a strong tendency to preserve our reputation”, explains Castelnuovo, “so”, he says, “reporting a scam of this type can mean for some to admit, to themselves and to others, that we have not been” smart ” enough to defend us from a criminal who acted in any case also thanks to our involuntary complicity ».

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About Banner Leon

Videogames entered his life in the late '80s, at the time of the first meeting with Super Mario Bros, and even today they make it a permanent part, after almost 30 years. Pros and defects: he manages to finish Super Mario Bros in less than 5 minutes but he has never finished Final Fight with a credit ... he's still trying.

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