Do you live in a fraud hotspot?

Fraud comes in many guises, and most of us have fallen victim to one form or another at some point. But did you know that the place you live can affect how likely you are to fall foul of different types of scam?

Using data from Action Fraud and the Office for National Statistics, Which? has published new research showing where you are most likely to be a victim of fraud. It found that London is the biggest fraud hotspot, with 104 instances of fraud reported for every 10,000 people. That compares with 38 per 10,000 people in Northern Ireland, the least fraud-affected part of the UK.

Fraud comes in many forms

So what kinds of fraud are people falling victim to? The most commonly reported type concerns online shopping and auctions, of which there were 86,127 cases overall, and these are most prevalent in London. London also came top for ticket fraud and investment scams.

Advance fee fraud – where someone demands money upfront for goods that never arrive – is the second biggest, with 78,686 instances reported and the highest number in Warwickshire, while computer fixing fraud came in third, with 38,891 cases and Norfolk the top location.

Interestingly, Sussex is a top fraud hotspot for dating scams. These are where criminals lure unsuspecting victims into transferring them money by convincing them they’re entering into a romance.

How to avoid becoming a victim of fraud

The research also highlights the fact that fraud is on the rise, with 3.6 million fraud cases reported in England and Wales in 2018 – a 12.6% increase on 2017 statistics. And that’s not the whole picture, because many such crimes don’t get reported at all.

Although fraud takes many guises, there are simple things you can do to make it less likely that you’ll be the victim of a scam, such as:

  • Keep your computer software up-to-date, including anti-virus software.
  • Never give out personal information (such as your phone number or bank details) unless you’re sure you can trust who you’re talking to – don’t be tempted to give out this information to unsolicited callers or emailers.
  • Shred documents that contain any personal information (including your name and address) when you no longer need them.
  • Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails – these can be used to access sensitive information such as your usernames, passwords and bank card details.
  • Sign up for security measures such as Verified by Visa to add additional protection to your bank cards.

Another thing to remember is the old adage that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Approach everything with a healthy degree of suspicion and you’ll be much more difficult for a criminal to defraud. Finally, if you suspect you may have fallen victim to a scam, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.