National campaign against fraud launched to help people protect themselves

12 February 2024, 13:14

A woman using a laptop and holding a bank card
Social media financial scams. Picture: PA

Labour said it is ‘too little, too late’ as the amount of fraud has soared.

A new anti-fraud campaign to help people protect themselves against crime has been launched, but critics say it is “too little, too late”.

The Government’s Stop! Think Fraud campaign, starting on Monday, includes a new website with fraud safety advice and adverts on billboards, broadcast and social media.

Fraud accounts for about 40% of all crime in England and Wales, costing society £6.8 billion, the Home Office said.

There were 3.3 million fraud offences in the year ending June 2023, a 13% decrease compared with the previous year, according to the Office for National Statistics’ Crime Survey for England and Wales.

Labour said there has been an almost eightfold increase in the amount of fraud under Conservative rule, rising from about 440,000 offences in 2012.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said: “Our bold fraud strategy is continuing to deliver for the British people.

“This new campaign is a powerful tool to add to our arsenal, which already includes a world-first agreement from tech firms to prevent online fraud and the rollout of a national fraud squad that has 400 expert investigators.

“I encourage everyone to stop, take a moment to think about fraud, and share this messaging far and wide.”

Security minister Tom Tugendhat said: “Fraud ruins lives. Following this advice will give people the best tips to stop fraudsters from stealing their hard-earned cash, and point them towards all the help and information on offer.”

Mr Tugendhat suggested the problem has worsened in recent years because “we’ve all gone online”, telling BBC Breakfast: “That’s why fraud has become so prevalent, but that’s also why we’re targeting this action.”

But shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry said: “Under this Tory Government there has been an almost eightfold increase in the amount of fraud, from around 400,000 offences per year to 3.2 million, and the losses to the UK as a whole have grown from £38.4 billion per year to £219 billion.

“After 14 years spent sleepwalking through the escalation of the crisis, launching an ad campaign in response is the definition of too little, too late.

“And most importantly, the Government’s response also remains far too narrow.

“This new campaign ignores the £158 billion lost to fraud each year by UK businesses, and does not even mention the two biggest components of those losses, procurement and payroll fraud.

“Only Labour will deliver the comprehensive new plan we need to protect everyone targeted by this parasitic crime, from small firms to pensioners.”

Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at consumer group Which?, said: “The onus shouldn’t fall just on consumers to protect themselves.

“Government should urgently plug the gaps in fraud prevention, particularly in the telecoms, online advertising and domain sectors, making it harder for scammers to reach potential victims in the first place.

“Tackling fraud must be made a national priority and a fraud minister should be appointed who can bring industries together to disrupt and block online criminals.”

People can find information on how to spot fraud, stay safe and what to do if targeted, on the website gov.uk/stopthinkfraud .

By Press Association

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