People living in Warwickshire who suspect they are victims of fraud or internet crime, are being urged to contact a national “one stop shop” reporting centre.
Since the beginning of April, all police forces in the UK have signed up to Action Fraud, a government led body coordinating the fight against fraudsters and scammers.
Detective Inspector Mark Glazzard, head of Warwickshire’s Economic Crime Unit, says it is important people know who to contact if targeted.
“If you’ve been scammed, ripped off or conned, there is something you can do about it. Action Fraud is a central point for reporting fraud and financially motivated internet crime and can be contacted on line through www.actionfraud.police.uk or by phoning 0300 123 2040. However, if there is any immediate danger, or if you see a crime in action, call the emergency 999 number.
“The service is run by the National Fraud Authority working with partners in law enforcement.
“All police forces across the country had to link into Action Fraud by April this year. In Warwickshire and our neighbouring West Mercia force, we were up and running by the beginning of the year and since then more than 500 people across the two force areas have reported incidents.”
DI Glazzard said West Mercia and Warwickshire were also working closely with colleagues in Staffordshire and the West Midlands on a regional basis.
“Fraud, including internet related scams, is a growing problem and is a priority area for the police working with Action Fraud, which coordinates all incidents identifying trends and patterns. They then pass on information and incidents to local police forces.
“Although these kind of crimes are a growing problem, especially as technology advances, we suspect they are under-reported. Even so, we have had significant successes in identifying fraudsters and putting them before the courts.
“Action Fraud undoubtedly will enable us to make further progress in tackling this scourge. It provides a standardised reporting system to ensure police forces have a greater understanding and awareness of threats, especially on a regional or national level.”
He said fraudsters targeted a wide range of victims, including businesses, online users and those persuaded to make an advance payment for goods and services which failed to materialise.
Although fraud comes in many forms, taking the following simple steps will help give protection:-
· 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. Banks and financial institutions will not send an email asking you to click on a link and confirm your bank details. Do not trust such emails, even if they look genuine.
· Destroy and preferably shred receipts with your card details on and post showing your name and address.
· Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall installed.
· Sign-up to Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code whenever given the option while shopping online. This involves registering a password with your card company and provides extra security to online transactions.
· If you receive bills, invoices or receipts for things you haven’t bought, or financial institutions you don’t normally deal with make contact 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 and Experian can all provide your credit file.
· 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.
· 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 claiming they can help recover the money lost.
· If you need advice about fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Further information about fraud and full details about Action Fraud are available on the Warwickshire Police website: www.warwickshire.police.uk/ineedhelporadvice/ActionFraud/index