FRAUD is now the most common crime in the UK, and the effects on victims can be devastating and long-lasting.
Findings from the BBC estimate that the UK loses £2,300 per minute to fraud, or a staggering £7 billion per year. Barclays bank estimate that a fraudulent transaction happens every 15 seconds in the UK alone.
Over the past 14 years, the rise of social media, online shopping and online banking has provided fraudsters with a new opportunity to engage in cybercrime.
There is an assumption that people who fall victim to fraud are at fault for not identifying the scam earlier. This is not accurate, as fraudsters make it their business to avoid detection, consistently developing more advanced ways of appearing authentic.
It is important that people do not feel ashamed in reporting fraud, as specialist teams can help. Sadly, not every case of fraud can be resolved to a satisfactory outcome, but there are many that can, and reporting your experience can help to catch perpetrators and protect others.
However, though scams are often incredibly difficult to identify, there is some information available that may help you to identify a scam attempt before it is too late.
There has been an increase in scammers calling victims to acquire the information they need to access personal accounts and records. Labour is proposing a total ban on ‘spoofing’ UK numbers from overseas, including blocking mobile calls from abroad using UK numbers unless the network provider confirms the user is roaming.
This would prevent scammers from disguising their identity through caller ID to make it look like they are calling from the UK.
There are currently fraudsters calling on seemingly legitimate lines, claiming to be bank services and asking people to share one-time passcodes or delete their banking app. You should never share your one-time passcodes, and a bank asking you to delete your app is always suspicious.
If you are phoned by someone claiming to be your bank asking for personal details, hang up the phone and call back in 30 minutes’ time. If you call back immediately, the fraudster is likely to still be on the line, and you will not be protected.
Most banks have information available about the most recent scams, so contact the fraud team or visit their website for more information.
There are also some excellent resources available to help identify known scams. One of these resources is Citizens Advice’s online scams checker tool. The tool will ask you to answer a short set of questions, such as where you came across the ‘scam’ and what it asked of you. It will then provide tailored advice to determine whether you have been targeted by a scam. You can find the tool at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam/.
I recommend visiting the Money Saving Expert’s web page on stopping scams too. You can find lots of tips and tricks to be more scam aware, and advice on what to do if you think you have been targeted by a scam.
Whilst we are not currently able to stop scammers altogether, we can take steps to protect ourselves and our families.