More than 1 million incidents of financial fraud occurred in the first six months of 2016, according to official figures released by Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK). Representing a 53 per cent increase compared to the same period last year, this means an incident happened in the UK every 15 seconds between January and June 2016.

The figures are released as FFA UK and all major banks and key financial services providers across the UK come together for the first time to launch a national campaign to combat financial fraud. The campaign – Take Five – aims to put consumers and businesses back in control with straight forward advice to help prevent financial fraud. It focuses on financial frauds directly targeting customers, such as email deception (known as phishing) and phone and text-based scams (sometimes known as vishing and smishing), and is designed to remind people that it pays to stop and think. It will also help protect people from criminals duping them into moving money into bank accounts controlled by the fraudsters.
Commenting, Katy Worobec, Director of FFA UK, said: “Banks and other financial service providers work hard to protect their customers, using highly sophisticated security systems. Last year, banks stopped £7 in £10 of attempted fraud from happening. But as the banks’ systems get more advanced, fraudsters turn their attention elsewhere and sadly this often means tricking people out of their personal details and money. 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.”

Backing the campaign, Home Office Security Minister, Ben Wallace, 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. At the same time, the Government is working closely with law enforcement and the banking sector through the Joint Fraud Taskforce to take action to stop the organised criminals behind financial fraud.”

To mark the launch of Take Five, new research reveals almost three quarters (73 per cent) of people claim they are aware of the methods fraudsters use. Yet, at the same time more than a quarter (26 per cent) of people admit they still provide personal details to people claiming to be from their bank even if they do not think they should.

The most common reason for respondents sharing their details was because they felt the person seemed genuine (43 per cent) while almost four in ten (39 per cent) said it was because they felt pressured. Almost four in ten (38 per cent) also said it was because they were busy/in the middle of something and wanted to get them off the phone quickly.

Of those who have been a victim of financial fraud, almost a quarter (24 per cent) admitted the main reason was because the fraudster was extremely convincing. More than a third (37 per cent) of people thought they were being scammed during the conversation but still continued with the transaction and almost a quarter (23 per cent) realised after the conversation had finished.

Tony Blake, Senior Fraud Prevention Officer, DCPCU (Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit), commented: “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.”

Backing the campaign, Ian Dyson, Commissioner, City of London Police, which is the national policing lead for fraud said: “Fraud and cyber crime account for nearly half of all crime according to the British Crime Survey and this campaign is aimed at giving people the confidence to think before they act. Pausing for that short moment and asking ourselves, is this the safe thing to do, will go a long way to thwarting the fraudsters that prey on peoples trusting nature. This campaign is one element of the Joint Fraud Taskforce bringing together law enforcement, Government and business to tackle the increase in crime that blights every community across the country.”

With support from campaign partners Cifas and the City of London Police, Take Five is being delivered in collaboration with private and public sector supporters – including Government and the police – as well as FFA UK’s members: the major banks, credit, debit and charge card issuers, and card payment acquirers. It is also supported by a range of consumer groups and other organisations including the Money Advice Service, National Trading Standards, Neighbourhood Watch and the independent charity Victim Support. The Take Five brand will be visible across many of the banks’ resources including in branches, on ATMs and their websites.

In 2015, financial fraud losses reached £755m which represented a 26% rise in 12 months.