Financial fraud soaring - five tips to stay safe

New ‘Take Five’ campaign launched to curb the rise in financial scams and help people protect themselves.

Over one million cases of financial fraud occurred between January and June this year, according to new figures from Financial Fraud Action (FFA) UK.

The number of incidents have more than doubled compared to the same period last year, which suggests a scam occurred every 15 seconds between January and June 2016.

The alarming statistics have been released to support the launch of a new campaign today (September 20) called Take Five, which aims to curb the rise in these devastating scams.

Fighting back

The Take Five campaign led by the FFA and backed by the police, banking industry and consumer groups, aims to fight the rise of financial fraud by reminding people of the simple things they can do to avoid becoming victims.

The drive is shining the light on scams through emails (known as phishing), phone (vishing) and text-based cons (smishing) and with the message to people with busy lives to stop and think and not become easy targets. Take Five fraud campaign

Ben Wallace, Home Office Security Minister, 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.

The message of the Take Five campaign is don’t be hurried or hustled, take a moment before you give out any personal information.”

Last year banks managed to prevent £7 in £10 of attempted fraud using sophisticated security systems, but millions of pounds have still been lost.

Over 2015, losses due to financial fraud reached £775 million, up 26% compared to the year before.

The problem is that, as the banks get better at preventing fraud, criminals are turning to tricking people out of their personal details and money.

Katy Worobec, Director of FFA UK, said: “Alongside the banks, people can also play an important part in helping us to stop financial fraud and protect themselves.

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.”

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

Stop and think

Police experts say that many are aware of the dangers of giving out their personal details but are still getting caught out.

Research from the FFA shows that three quarters of people say they are aware of fraudsters’ tricks.

But more than a quarter admit they will go against their gut instinct and provide personal details to someone claiming to be from their bank even if they think the shouldn’t.

Commonly people said they shared details because the person seemed genuine (43%) while many said they did it because they felt pressured (39%).

Almost four in t10 (38%) said they did it because they were in a rush and wanted to get off the phone quickly.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of victims of financial fraud admitted they fell for scam because the fraudster was very convincing.

Worryingly, more than a third (37%) of victims could tell they were being scammed during the conversation but still carried on and nearly a quarter (23%) realised after a conversation ended.

Tony Blake, senior fraud prevention officer at the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, said: “Many people already know the dos and don’ts when it comes to sharing personal details, but it is easy to forget if you feel flustered, pressurised or rushed into sharing information.

“Take Five is about knowing it is fine to stop a conversation or not to respond to an email so you can take a moment to think and take back control of the situation.

"Everyone needs to be vigilant and safeguard their information – if you get any calls, texts or emails out of the blue asking for your personal or financial details always take a moment to stop and think.”

Five steps to keep safe

The FFA has provided five simple tips to help you avoid falling victim to financial fraud:

1. Never disclose security details, such as your PIN or full password – it’s never right to reveal these details.

2. Never assume an email request or caller is genuine – people aren’t always who they say they are.

3. Don’t be rushed – a bank or genuine organisation won’t mind waiting to give you time to stop and think.

4. Listen to your instincts – if something feels wrong then it is usually right to pause and question what’s happening.

5. Stay in control – have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for information.

You can find out more about the campaign by visiting the Take Five website.

Get access to your credit report to help you spot suspicious activity on your accounts

Scams to watch out for:

Twitter banking scam - how to stay safe

Fake text message scam targeting parents’ worst fears

From vishing to fake invoices: 5 most common scams and how to stay safe

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