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Victim services

How to be safe from fraud

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In the UK, fraud losses equate to £130 billion each year, but fraud can have massive impact on individuals in more ways than just the financial: the emotional and physical impact can be equally devastating. In this blog, you can learn about different types of scams, how to report them and how to keep yourself – and your money – safe from fraudsters

According to the National Crime Agency, fraud is the most commonly experienced crime in the UK. Official statistics show that there were 4.4 million fraud offences committed from June to November 2020. This has grown over the last year as a result of the increase of online shopping during the pandemic, with a 27% increase seen in ‘online shopping and auctions’ fraud, adding up to 77,670 offences.

Common scams

There are a lot of different scams that fraudsters can commit in order to gain access to your finances. Here we have outlined some of the most common scams that you might find online. This is not a conclusive list, as new scams are being created all the time, so remember our top tips and always question it if something doesn’t seem right!

Identity theft

Identity theft is a fraudster gathering your personal data and accessing your money. Once they have your information, they could apply for things in your name like a loan or spend money in other ways. This could be due to clicking on dangerous links or by submitting your information over an insecure internet connection.

Text or email scams

An email or text scam is very common. An individual contacts you claiming to be from a trusted organisation like HMRC or a bank and asks you to click a link or fill out a form with your details.

Phone scams – authorised push payment (APP) scams

Similar to text and email scams, a person might call and pretend to be from your bank or phone company and will push you to make a payment, deceiving you to think they are a legitimate payee. Another common example is someone claiming to be from the police saying your bank account is compromised and you need to transfer money to a safer account.

Romance scams

A fraudster grooms a person into a romantic relationship and tricks them into sending money. This can be through a fake online dating profile where they ask for money after building a rapport with the individual, or where they seek to gain enough personal information to steal a person’s identity.

How to report scams

The majority of fraud cases should be reported to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime.

Action Fraud don’t investigate the cases but are responsible for analysing and assessing all reports. They decide if there are viable lines of enquiry and will then pass that on to the relevant organisation like the police or Trading Standards. The receiving agency decides on the next appropriate action.

The police will take reports of fraud:

  • if the victim is vulnerable or at risk,
  • if there is a known local offender, or
  • if the suspect could be caught immediately.

Prevention tips

Fraud is difficult to detect and can be even harder to prevent, but there are some things you can do to keep yourself and your money safe.

  • Ask questions – If you are unsure about something that relates to your personal information, listen to your instincts and question it.
  • Pay using a credit card – If you feel you are paying to the right place, use a credit card as it is the safest way to pay for anything online: you can dispute any payment with the provider which can result in getting your money back if it is not legitimate.
  • Stay safe online – Make sure to create unique passwords for each website, keep them regularly updated and don’t put any private or identifiable information online.
  • Be careful of unsolicited emails or calls – Don’t click on any links you are unsure about or give out personal information: if you want to make sure that a call is legitimate, you can always make contact with the company separately from a different phone line to confirm if the request is real.
  • Check your connection – If you arere out and about, make sure that the WiFi you’re connecting to – and the website you are submitting information to – is secure, as this could be how people access your data.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is – Promises of easy or free money aren’t to be trusted.

Fraud can leave long lasting effects as thousands of fraud victims aren’t reimbursed. It is crucial to be aware and cautious with personal information and to stay safe online.