Barclays 'goes to war' on fraudsters and scam artists in £10m campaign

Barclays is aiming to close the "digital safety gap" - the growing disconnect between our confidence in digital technology and our ability to use it safely - with its new multi-channel campaign.

The push, which continues the messaging used in the bank’s campaign from early 2016, which focused on fraudsters posing as bank staff, comes after the latest crime figures show that fraud and cyber offences in England and Wales now make up half of all recorded crime.

Barclays’ own research, meanwhile, has found that a quarter of people in the UK have experienced a cyber-fraud or scam in the last three years, with 18% of those more than once.

The campaign features an initial two TV spots, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, which depict common scams in a stark and disconcerting way. In one, a young man in a foreign country, who has apparently suffered an accident, emails home to request that his family send money to the hospital treating him.

In the other, a woman in a call centre, posing as a bank employee, uses a subtle trick to get a customer to reveal their full PIN over the phone.

These will be supported by two ads created specifically for VOD, on the subjects of shopping on insecure sites (those with URLs that do not begin with https) and the danger of using the most common, easily guessed passwords, which include "password" and "123456".

Claire Hilton, marketing director at Barclays, said the campaign was a recognition that when technology evolves as rapidly as it has done in recent years, those with criminal intentions are often the first to spot how people’s vulnerabilities can be exploited.

"We started to talk about fraud in January last year," she said, "and I think we were the first and only financial services company to date to take that message above the line. This campaign is an evolution of that – what we’re going to do is really go to war on the fraudsters and the scammers.

"The insight behind the campaign is a recognition that all of us now are very much connected in the digital world – but our confidence in using it is outpacing our knowledge of how to keep ourselves safe online."

The above the line activity, which also includes print and outdoor advertising and media partnerships with Capital, The Guardian and The Sunday Times, is accompanied by a major project to boost the practical knowledge and awareness of people across the UK.

The brand has created an online quiz, hosted on the Barclays site, which consumers can use to test their own digital safety level. Barclays aims to get three million people to take the test.

Alongside this, the bank will host a program of "tea and teach" sessions, run by its team of "digital eagles", designed to directly promote digital awareness. The sessions, open to all, will be held both in Barclays’ branch network and in other locations such as libraries and care homes.

"What really makes this campaign distinct and stand out is that we’re actually taking action," Hilton said.

"We try to make sure that in every message there is a hint or a tip or a piece of advice embedded in it, which is simple to understand but which gets people to stop and think. It’s not about scaring people – we want every piece of communication to work really hard."

In what it claims is a first for a UK high street bank, Barclays is also introducing new functionality in its mobile app that allows users to control how their debit card can be used, by turning on and off different types of purchase, such as online and telephone, and setting daily ATM withdrawal limits.

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