Financial scam committed 'every 15 seconds'

By Kevin Peachey
Personal finance reporter

Shredded document

A financial scam was committed once every 15 seconds in the first half of the year, prompting a new campaign to highlight the risks.

More than one million cases of card, cheque, phone or online fraud were recorded from January to June, Financial Fraud Action (FFA) said.

That was a 53% rise on the same period last year.

The FFA, which is funded by banks and payment card firms, is pushing advice to help prevent fraud.

Losses are often refunded by banks, but not in every case. Many people are too embarrassed to admit they have been caught out.

Media caption,
Christine Stanley tells how she was duped by fraudsters who posed as the police

The Take Five campaign, backed by police, the banking industry and consumer groups, is aimed at ensuring busy lives do not make people easy targets.

"We are asking people to take five - to take that moment - to pause and think before they respond to any financial requests and share any personal or financial details," said Katy Worobec, director of FFA.

Home Office Security Minister Ben Wallace, said: "The impact of financial fraud can be devastating on victims, with fraudsters using increasingly cunning and convincing tactics. They prey on people who are trying to get on with their lives but in a moment where they are busy or distracted become vulnerable.

"At the same time, the government is working closely with law enforcement and the banking sector through the Joint Fraud Taskforce to take action to stop the organised criminals behind financial fraud."

Image source, PA

Banks claim they are stopping £7 of every £10 in potential fraud losses, but millions of pounds are still being lost to fraudsters.

Last year, financial fraud losses reached £755m - a 26% increase on the previous year.

You can probably add to that a significant sum that goes unreported every year.

Email deception, as well as phone and text-based scams, are now common tools in the modern-day bank robber's trade - reflected in official crime figures which now include fraud data.

Fraud and cyber crime account for nearly half of all offences, according to the British Crime Survey.

Police experts say that consumers are aware of the dangers of giving out personal details, but can still be caught out.

A survey by FFA suggested that this was most commonly because victims felt the caller was genuine, with nearly four in 10 being caught out as they felt pressurised, with a similar proportion letting their guard down when they were busy.

Image source, Thinkstock

How to protect yourself from fraud

  • Never disclose personal details such as PINs and passwords
  • Don't assume an email request or caller is genuine
  • Don't be rushed. Genuine callers allow time to return a call
  • Consider your instincts
  • Have confidence to refuse unusual requests

A separate survey commissioned by a comparison website suggested that more than four in 10 people have needed to cancel credit or debit cards after falling victim to fraud in the last year.

Jody Baker, head of money at, said: "Most of the transactions we make now are digital and our research suggests that over a quarter of people carry as little as £10 in cash.

"With so many of us shopping and banking on the internet, combined with a rise in contactless payments, it is more important than ever to be vigilant when managing your money."

Some of the most common scams:

  • Phone scams: Fraudsters may fake the telephone number on a display screen, tricking you into thinking that it is a genuine call from a bank before asking for personal details
  • Text message scams: You receive a message claiming there has been fraud on your account and are asked to deal with it by calling a number or visiting a fake website to update your personal details
  • Email scams: Using copied branding from trusted organisations, the emails usually contain a link which forwards you onto a website that gathers your personal information or installs malicious software on your computer
  • Online scams: Include fake pop-ups in your online banking window, sending you "scam alert" messages hiding malicious software, or faking retailer websites to make you input your financial details
  • Invoice fraud: Criminals locate genuine business invoice details, including payment dates, then pose as regular suppliers taking payment before disappearing. Those sending genuine invoices are unaware the details have been copied
  • CEO spoofing: Fraudsters send workers an email claiming to be from the chief executive or some other senior member of staff asking you make an urgent payment outside of normal procedures

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.