15,000 members of the public have reported fraud since the start of 2010, it has been revealed, with victims losing between £6 and £1m each.
Action Fraud, the UK’s first national fraud reporting centre, has released the figures and is calling on everyone who has been affected by fraud to ‘make a noise about it’.
£3.5bn is lost by individuals to fraud each year, the organisation says – but it is likely the actual figure stolen by scammers is far higher because many victims of fraud never report it.
Top five scams
According to Action Fraud, the five most commonly reported frauds in the last month were:
- Online shopping and auction fraud;
- Advance fee frauds such as loan and psychic scams;
- Romance and dating frauds;
- Non-investment frauds such as miracle health and internet dialler scams;
- Share sale fraud.
For tips on avoiding scams and staying safe online, read the Which? How to protect yourself from ID fraud, Understanding card fraud and Shop safely online advice guides. If you do fall victim to fraud, it is important to report this as soon as possible – even if you feel embarrassed that you’ve fallen prey to a scam.
Action Fraud, run by the National Fraud Authority, allows individuals to report fraud via the web or over the telephone, provides crime reference numbers and adds information about scams to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. This helps the police get a more complete national picture of fraud.
Dr Bernard Herdan, chief executive of the National Fraud Authority, said: ‘Fraud, of any value, is a serious crime that devastates lives and often funds more organised crime like drug smuggling and people trafficking. We’re very pleased to see so many people speaking up, but we know there are many more victims out there.’
Fraud prevention tips
Action Fraud also offers support to members of the public aiming to protect themselves from scams.
It offers six simple rules everyone can follow to help prevent fraud:
- If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is;
- If you didn’t enter a lottery, you can’t have won one;
- Ask questions. If someone is legitimate, they won’t pressurise you or be elusive;
- Be wary about giving your personal information to strangers or providing money up front;
- If an individual gives you information about a company, always check to ensure this matches up with the real details available. Ring the company if in doubt;
- Don’t stay silent. If you’ve been targeted by a fraudster and lost money, contact Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.
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