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Police vow to improve fraud reporting to fight surge in financial crime

Victims will be able to track reports online, while businesses will be able to report up to 1,000 crimes at once

A planned revamp of fraud and cybercrime reporting tool Action Fraud will allow banks and other businesses to record up to 1,000 crimes in one go, as an official survey shows such incidents of financial crime have soared to millions.

Currently businesses can submit up to 200 fraud reports at once about fraud perpetrated against them or their customers, but this number will increase five-fold later this year as part of a drive from City of London Police to ‘significantly improve’ its reporting services.

Further upgrades to the site mean that for the first time, victims of fraud will also be able to track a crime they’ve reported online through various stages as it’s allocated to a law enforcement agency for investigation and an outcome is reached.

It comes as statistics from the Crime Survey England and Wales (CSEW) revealed that bank and credit account fraud accounted for 74% of all fraud incidents in the year to March 2017 – amounting to an estimated 2.5m out of 3.4m fraud incidents during the period. Over half of all incidents – 1.9m – involved computers or the internet.

Police figures show the total number of fraud offences in England and Wales rose for the fifth year in a row, surging by 5% compared with the previous year.

Speaking to Which?, City of London Police – which runs Action Fraud – said technical complexities had slowed the new system’s design process, but it’s now in a testing phase and is expected to be launched later this year.

‘Repeat victimisation’ risk

Fraud and computer misuse incidents in England and Wales involving adults were categorised in this year’s Crime Survey, which found:

  • There were an estimated 1.8m incidents involving ‘computer misuse’. Around two-third of these related to a computer virus and the remaining third involved unauthorised access to personal information.
  • There were estimated to be over 700,000 incidents of ‘non-investment’ fraud, which includes incidents relating to online shopping and ‘vishing’.
  • 86% of fraud victims had only fallen prey once, but ‘repeat victimisation’ was more common for bank and credit account fraud than for other types of fraud.
  • Bank and credit account fraud were also more likely to result in initial loss to the victim (78%, 1.9m incidents) than other types of fraud – though in 84% of cases they got all their money back.

How Action Fraud works

Action Fraud is an online and telephone-based reporting centre for individuals, businesses and charities who’ve fallen prey to fraud or cybercrime. It issues victims with crime numbers and then passes reports to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).

The NFIB then analyses the reports looking for links and patterns between different crimes. Reports are also passed to a law enforcement body for investigation.

Depending on the nature and location of the crime, it might go to a local police force, or a specialist agency like the National Crime Agency or Trading Standards.

Check out our Reporting Scams guides for advice on what to do if you think you’ve been the victim of a fraud or scam.

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