Response to the latest ONS fraud statistics

Josh Gunnell, head of fraud & ID pre-sales at TransUnion in the UK, comments on the crime in England and Wales bulletin from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

“The latest ONS statistics reveal that total fraud offences rose by 9 per cent in the year ending September 2019, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW).

That’s a total of 3.8 million offences, with bank and credit account fraud the driving force behind this increase – up 15 per cent to 2.7 million offences. These figures highlight the continuing need for heightened vigilance from consumers themselves and a more concerted effort from businesses, government and other organisations to help educate and protect.

“One of the most prevalent types of fraud is remote purchase or card not present (CNP) fraud, where payment card or bank details obtained fraudulently are used to buy something online or over the phone. Figures from UK Finance, included in this bulletin, stated an annual volume increase of 353,453 in this category.

“The government-backed Take Five scheme aims to help protect consumers from financial fraud, with advice on how to spot common scams, but it appears the message may not be hitting home yet, with recent high-profile scams in the run-up to Christmas including the John Lewis voucher phishing scam via WhatsApp. Consumers were drawn in by a message promising free gift vouchers and an email link to a convincing fake website. They were asked for their address details, exposing them to the risk of fraud and identity theft, and to send the message to their WhatsApp contacts, helping the scam to quickly spread.

“Another more recent example saw Amazon Prime customers targeted, with one reportedly losing £25,000. The customers received calls saying their account had been hacked and were told something had been ordered using their details. Believing they were taking steps to secure their account, victims handed over their bank details and other personal information.

“These scams are a stark reminder that even the largest retailers aren’t off limits and that the task to help educate consumers lies not just with the financial sector, but with all businesses and organsiations that interact with consumers. As fraud continues to rise, it’s an ongoing task for both businesses and consumers to stay safe and education plays a major role here. As well as having the right tools in place to mitigate risk and prevent fraud from happening, retailers in particular need to be providing advice and guidance to help their customers spot scams.”