Avon and Somerset Police is reminding people of the need to be wary of fraud and cyber crime with an estimated £4.3billion being lost every year, according to the City of London Police.
Fraud protect officer Jordan Coates, who has experience working for Avon and Somerset Police and has recently joined South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, was invited to speak at an event on Wednesday 3 May in London, in which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Home Secretary was in attendance.
She spoke at a community venue in London to members of U3A and explained that more than two-fifths of all reported crime is fraud and yet we know a lot of incidents still go unreported.
She said: “Fraud is the UK’s most experienced crime type, and we do not talk about it enough. The impact fraud has on its victims can be devastating, we need to recognise fraud as a high impact crime and raise awareness of how to protect yourself from it.
“If you know how to identify fraud, but more importantly how to keep yourself safe from it, you are less likely to become a victim or suffer a loss. Education is key to raising awareness of the current fraud threat.”
In her talk Jordan explained that language around fraud is really important.
She said: “Some victims tell police they feel embarrassed at ‘falling’ for a scam, but that is not how we see it. We want all victims to know there is nothing to be embarrassed about – people of all ages and backgrounds are susceptible to different scams carried out by predatory and professional fraudsters.”
Tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud
- Never reveal personal banking information, such as your PIN. No real bank employee or law-enforcement official (such as a police officer) will ever ask you for that information under any circumstance, even if a ‘colleague’ confirms them to be a genuine. Likewise they will never ask you to withdraw money for them to later collect as part of a criminal investigation.
- If you get a call out of the blue and you suspect it may be fraudulent, the best thing to do is hang up. Wait for the line to be cleared (as fraudsters can keep the line open) and then call the organisation they claim to be from on the number they advertise on their website, not any number the caller has provided you with.
- Be very wary if an offer seems too good to be true. Seeing the latest television being sold online with an 80% discount from an unknown seller should be a red flag.
- Be conscious that not everyone, especially online, is who they claim to be. Someone you have met online and never seen in person, may be using a false profile to win your trust and affection. You wouldn’t hand over a large quantity of money to a stranger in the street, and such scenarios should be treated with the same caution.
- And remember to Take Five:
- Stop – take five minutes to think through what you are being asked to do. Criminals rely on putting victims under time pressure so by taking five minutes you are in control.
- Challenge – could it be a fraudster asking you to do this? Seek the advice of a relative or trusted friend if uncertain.
- Protect – contact you bank immediately if you think you have been scammed and report to Action Fraud.
Jordan added: “It was such an honour to have an audience with the Prime Minister and put a spotlight on fraud protect activity. It really is a topic everyone should be talking about.
“Fraud is not always about how much money is lost; it is about how it can make us feel. Being a victim of fraud can leave behind so much destruction, please report any fraud to Action Fraud, support is only one report away.
“There are lots of quick and easy things we can do to disrupt fraudsters. You can forward any suspicious text messages to 7726, and forward any suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org
“Fraud is designed to be successful, if you have been the victim of fraud, it is not your fault.
“One in five victims of fraud will become repeat victims, so if you do not report your fraud, we cannot help keep you safe from the next attempt.
“You can report all fraud and cyber crime to Action Fraud via their website www.actionfraud.police.uk or call centre on 0300 123 2040.”