Across the UK more and more cases of fraud are being reported every year. Whilst businesses face a significant threat from fraud, personal fraud that targets individuals is also on the rise and has the potential to leave people in dire financial straits.
Bad credit loan specialist, Solution Loans wanted to understand the extent of the problem for ordinary people in Britain so submitted FOI requests to all UK police forces and received a response from 32 of them.
Who is at most risk to personal fraud?
The results were very surprising. Whilst the common view of fraud is of old people being taken advantage of, the age group most likely to be victims of fraud are so-called Millennials.
One fifth of all the cases reported to the police in the UK across a three-year period from 1st August 2015 to 31st July 2018 were against those in the 18-29 age bracket.
This was compared to just 9% of cases being committed against those aged 60-69.
Millennials regard themselves as digitally savvy, but in reality, many of them are far too ready to share details like email address and even their mother’s maiden name online. Because they spend so much time online they are more likely to be targeted by online scams, especially those operating on social media.
Where is personal fraud happening across the UK?
Everywhere. It’s a problem for police forces to solve up and down the country. Some areas affected include:
West Yorkshire – 9,098 cases in a three-year period
Northumbria – 4,630 cases
Humberside – 3,069 cases
Leicestershire – 1,793 cases
Gloucestershire – 1,530 cases
Norfolk – 1,078 cases
Cleveland – 1,050 cases
Cumbria – 806 cases
How much does it cost individuals?
The answer to this is a lot. Much more than you would expect.
In Northumbria, 14 of the cases involved individuals losing over £100,000 each, while the average cost of fraud in Leicestershire was £26,000, £7,237 in Humberside and £2,417 recorded by the British Transport Police.
Those are huge sums.
How easy is it to convict?
It’s a very hard crime for the police to secure convictions. Of the data we were provided with, we saw that in Cumbria of the 414 cases of personal fraud from 1st August 2017 to 31st July 2018, only 39 resulted in convictions. That’s just 9.42%.
This is compared to a success rate of 15.12% from the British Transport Police in the period 1st August 2015 to 31st July 2016.
What should I do to protect myself?
It’s important to be vigilant. You should start by following our five tips to keep yourself, your personal information and your finances safe.
Never share your banking details over email or text message – even if this looks like a legitimate request from your bank, always ignore it. Your bank will never ask you to do this.
Always keep any other personal information, like your PIN number, confidential.
Regularly update your passwords and PIN numbers, and never have the same password for multiple accounts.
Shred documents that contain personal information, rather than binning them.
Keep on top of your credit score. You should always keep a close eye on your bank account activity, but by keeping a regular check on your credit score you’ll know if someone has stolen your identity to apply for credit cards, store cards or personal loans.
Amanda Gillam is Solution Loans's General Manager and has been since 2009. She is also a prolific writer on personal finance issues, and has been quoted numerous times in articles published on 3rd party websites and in press releases. Her...Read more about Amanda Gillam