Scammers are on the hunt for your lockdown savings: New figures show a 65% rise in financial fraud attempts
- £32 million of fraud prevented in the first half of 2021 by ‘Banking protocol’
- It represents a 65% rise on the figure recorded in the first six months of 2020
- ‘Protocol’ scheme begun in 2016 has now helped stop £174m of financial fraud
- Suggests scammers may be ramping up their attempts to steal money
Scammers ramped up their efforts during the pandemic to prey on vulnerable savers, latest figures from UK Finance revealed.
Staff at banks, building societies and post offices across the UK working with police managed to stop £32 million of fraud during the first half of this year – a 65 per cent rise on the first six months of 2020.
Using the Banking Protocol, a rapid scam response scheme, staff were able to alert police to 4,782 suspected scams between January and June 2021 saving potential victims an average of £6,672 each time.
Over 4,700 emergency calls were made between January and June 2021, protecting customers from losing an average of £6,672 each to criminals.
Savers are being urged to remain on their guard with the ending of Government lockdown support only likely to increase financial vulnerability in the immediate future.
Clinton Blackburn, temporary commander from the City of London Police said: ‘Criminals have continued to use the pandemic to prey on people’s fear and anxieties in order to steal their money, which is evident through the increase in how much the Banking Protocol has prevented being lost to heartless fraudsters so far this year.
‘The Banking Protocol continues to be one of the most vital ways of protecting vulnerable victims and preventing criminals from taking advantage of them, as banks are often the first point of contact when someone is about to fall victim to fraud.
‘It’s also essential the public remain vigilant and follow the Take Five advice before parting with any money or personal details.’
The Banking Protocol is a UK-wide scheme, launched by UK Finance, National Trading Standards and local police forces.
Branch staff are trained to spot the warning signs that suggest a customer may be falling victim to a scam, before alerting their local police force to intervene and investigate.
To date, the scheme has helped to prevent £174 million of fraud since it was introduced in 2016.
Between January and June this year, the scheme led to the arrest of over 90 suspected criminals, bringing the total number of arrests to 934 since 2016.
The most common frauds include impersonation scams, in which criminals imitate police or bank staff and convince people to visit their bank and withdraw or transfer large sums of money.
The scheme is also often used to prevent romance fraud, in which fraudsters use fake online dating profiles to trick victims into transferring money, and to catch rogue traders who demand cash for unnecessary work on properties.
Tom Selby, head of retirement policy at AJ Bell said: ‘The fact £32 million of financial fraud has been prevented by lenders and the Police is clearly good news, suggesting improved training for branch staff is helping protect savers from the scourge of scams.
‘But the reality is there will always be sophisticated fraudsters out there attempting to steal your money, so it is crucial savers do all they can to protect themselves.
‘That means knowing the tell-tale signs of a scam, being extremely wary of too-good-to-be-true offers, doing your due diligence before handing over your money and reporting anything suspicious to the relevant authorities.’
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