Beware the conmen trying to part you from your cash

Online fraud is a growing problem.
Online fraud is a growing problem.
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In Norfolk it’s dating, in Wales it’s IT issues, while in Northampton it’s online shopping. And in London it’s just about every type of fraudulent activity you can imagine.

Reported fraud is on the rise and it seems that no matter where you live criminals could be targeting you in a number of different ways.

Which? has discovered there were 264,204 frauds reported in 2016 – up 10 per cent on 2015 – and that certain parts of the country are particular hotspots for particular crimes.

Using Freedom of Information requests we got hold of thousands of fraud reports to Action Fraud, made through 2014 to 2016.

As a result we now know that Norfolk is most attractive to dating fraudsters, with more than 8,000 people being scammed into sending money to a prospective partner, that people in Northamptonshire are most likely to be hit by online shopping and auction scams, and nearly 1000 people in Dyfed-Powys in Wales reported computer fixing frauds over the three years.

The same area is also a hotspot for fake services fraud – such as false PPI claims firms.

Unsurprisingly London is a magnet for many types of fraud and people living there are most at risk of falling victim to scams such as being charged for fake loans, social media and email hacking, scam door-to-door sales, ticket fraud and direct debit fraud.

Scotland and Northern Ireland had much lower fraud reporting rates than the rest of the UK in 2014-16 as Police Scotland aren’t officially part of the Action Fraud reporting network, while Northern Ireland only joined in June 2015.

While fraud isn’t a physical crime its impact is felt just as much by victims. That’s why an ambitious agenda for tackling fraud and scams really needs to be part of the government thinking.

At Which? we think this should include improving the way businesses handle customer data and how it’s kept safe and how to ensure people get appropriate redress.

The government should also ensure that the Payment Systems Regulator implements stronger rules to protect people from bank transfer scams.

After all, as more and more of our personal information is available online, more and more protection is needed. And while the fraudsters find new ways to rip people off, those tackling

fraud need to up their game and find new ways to keep us all safe.

If you think you might have fallen victim to a scam or fraud visit which.co.uk/scams for advice on what to do. To see the Which? interactive map of the key fraud hotspots in the UK click HERE.

* Remember to send me your consumer queries at askalex@which.co.uk