People often think that fraud is a victimless crime, but it affects everyone - not just banks and financial institutions. Anyone who is a victim of fraud knows only too well the inconvenience and distress it causes. In extreme cases innocent individuals may lose livelihoods or life savings. Fraud along with other types of financial crime may be committed by organised criminals who could also be involved in crimes such as drug trafficking and terrorism that affect the country as a whole.
Fraud costs the British economy an enormous amount of money, estimated at around £14 billion each year, equivalent to £231 per head.
Use of plastic cards for purchases in shops, by mail order or over the internet is increasing. While plastic cards are generally a safe payment method some criminals target them to commit fraud and obtain money or goods illegally.
Increasingly many of us bank and shop over the internet. Shopping and banking on line can be very safe, but again there are criminals who will target this type of transaction.
There is much that you can do to protect yourself against becoming a victim of fraud.
To learn more about Fraud Prevention, go to these pages.
Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre, is a central point of contact for the public to report fraud and seek advice. Reports to Action Fraud feed into the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, helping law enforcement by providing better information to better target fraudsters.
If individuals or business operators have been a victim of fraud and want to report it, they are encouraged to call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, Textphone 0300 123 2050 or visit www.actionfraud.org.uk to get advice and guidance on protecting yourself from fraud.
Anyone witnessing a crime in progress should call the police on 999.
The Action Fraud call centre is open from Monday to Friday between 8am to 8pm, Saturday between 9am to 6pm and Sunday between 10am to 4pm.