Fraud

Action Fraud is the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre. They provide a central point of contact for information about fraud and cyber crime.

Reports of fraud and cyber crime are collated and analysed to establish networks of offences and identify the most suitable Police Force to investigate the matter, protect vulnerable victims and prosecute offenders.

If you wish to report online fraud you should go to the matter, Action Fraud website or call them on 0300 123 2040.

Although fraud comes in many forms, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself from the crime.

  • Do not give any personal information (name, address, bank details, email or phone number) to organisations or people before verifying their credentials
  • Many frauds start with a phishing email. Remember that banks and financial institutions will not send you emails asking you to click on a link and confirm your bank details. Do not trust such emails, even if they look genuine. You can always call your bank using the phone number on a genuine piece of correspondence, website (typed directly into the address bar) or the phone book to check if you're not sure
  • Destroy and preferably shred receipts with your card details on and any post with your name and address on. Identity fraudsters don't need much information in order to be able to clone your identity
  • Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall installed. Ensure your browser is set to the highest level of security notification and monitoring to prevent malware issues and computer crimes
  • Sign-up to Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code whenever you are given the option while shopping online. This involves you registering a password with your card company and adds an additional layer of security to online transactions with signed-up retailers
  • If you receive bills, invoices or receipts for things you haven't bought, or financial institutions you don't normally deal with contact you about outstanding debts, take action. Your identity may have been stolen
  • You should regularly get a copy of your credit file and check it for entries you don't recognise. Callcredit, Equifax, Experian, ClearScore and Noddle can all provide your credit file. An identity protection service such as ProtectMyID monitors your Experian credit report and alerts you by email or SMS to potential fraudulent activity. If it's fraud, a dedicated caseworker will help you resolve everything
  • Be extremely wary of post, phone calls or emails offering you business deals out of the blue. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always question it
  • If you have been a victim of fraud, be aware of fraud recovery fraud. This is when fraudsters pretend to be a lawyer or a law enforcement officer and tell you they can help you recover the money you've already lost

Please be aware of a scam where fraudsters contact victims claiming to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and trick them into paying bogus debts and taxes using iTunes gift cards.

A fraudster will cold call you on a landline, claiming to be from the Inland Revenue, HMRC, the Tax Office and more recently, PPI. They tell you in order to pay or receive your award, you need to buy iTunes vouchers - usually a large amount. This is not true - hang up your phone now.

In order to reassure you that they are genuine, they will even tell you of shops local to you where you can buy them from - this is a fraudster's trick, they are expert in gaining your trust.

They then ask you to reveal and read out the code on the back of the voucher for verification purposes. DO NOT give them the code. This gives them access to the voucher and you have lost any money you have paid for it.

Once you have given the activation code over the phone - you will not hear from or see them again.
Finally, they tell you someone will come and give you your money in exchange for the i-tunes voucher. NO-ONE will deliver any money to you.

How to protect yourself: 

  • HMRC will never use texts to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty or ever ask for payment in this way.
  • Telephone numbers and text messages can easily be spoofed. You should never trust the number you see on your telephones display. 
  • If you receive a suspicious cold call, end it immediately.

To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online fraud reporting tool.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has noticed a trend in fraudsters impersonating public sector bodies and placing orders with businesses that have an existing supply relationship.

This type of mandate fraud relies on the relationship between the business and the public body, as well as payment terms being agreed and the product being delivered before payment is required.

How it works

Businesses are usually contacted by fraudsters on the phone who spark interest by wanting to place large purchase orders. 

The scammers then switch and start to communicate with the businesses via email, consistent with previous dealings with the real public sector body.

The prior working relationship with the real public body is why this scam is so convincing. The fraudsters also keep all the correspondence, details and logos the same. 

Once the purchase terms have been agreed, the fraudsters schedule a delivery to addresses where they can intercept the delivery. In order to cover their tracks and not arouse suspicion they will usually choose closed Fire and Police Stations. 

Prevention and protection top tips

  • Compare email addresses and other details to previous correspondence
  • Be aware if there has been a period of time between purchase orders. If in doubt request clarification from an alternatively sourced email address/phone number
  • Don't be afraid to question when you are dealing with a public body representative that you have not previously dealt with
  • Don't be afraid to question when the delivery address differs from the historical ones

To report a fraud and receive a Police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use Action Fraud's online fraud reporting tool.

  • Never disclose security details, such as your PIN or full banking password
  • Don't assume an email, text or phone call is authentic
  • Don't be rushed - a genuine organisation won't mind waiting
  • Listen to your instincts - you know if something doesn't feel right
  • Stay in control - don't panic and make a decision you'll regret

Find out more