Stephen Phillips: New Action Fraud initiative to help victims
Fraud is a crime that happens all too often these days, and both individuals and businesses can be victims.
The National Fraud Authority estimates the loss to the country's economy to be some £73bn annually, and loss to individuals can be significant; even experienced investors can be duped into parting with large sums of money.
But all too often it is the ordinary man and woman who is defrauded, with devastating consequences.
Sadly, I hear too many accounts of people having lost their life savings with terrible implications for their family's future security.
More and more people in our communities are becoming victims of the high volume but relatively low value frauds increasingly carried out through fraudulent internet-based scams.
I am glad to see that the Government is now improving the reporting of fraud for victims by providing a specialist reporting and advice service for what is a particularly complex type of crime.
For the first time, with the introduction of Action Fraud, there will be a single point of contact for the collection of fraud and internet fraud reports where all victims will receive the same high standard of service.
Action Fraud's staff are trained in identifying the many types of fraud reported, and will also provide advice while dealing with individual cases to reduce the risk of victims falling prey to fraudsters again.
They can also make referrals to the Victim Support Service if necessary.
Action Fraud places prevention alerts onto its website as fraud trends emerge, and uses various types of media to raise awareness of fraud scams and to reduce harm. All fraud crime reports and other information related to attempted frauds is gathered and transferred securely each day to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, the national lead for the investigation of fraud.
There, fraud reports are analysed within a highly sophisticated, analytical database; as information and common details come together into a pattern, the analytical team send this information to the police force or agency considered best placed to deal with it.
This allows police forces and other agencies to focus their efforts on those fraud crimes with solid lines of enquiry to bring fraudsters to justice, or to disrupt their activities by shutting down websites, bank accounts and payment processing facilities.
Action Fraud is one part of a wider, coordinated programme that involves a wide range of agencies and police forces to build greater capacity and capability in tackling the increasingly sophisticated nature of fraud.
If you think you might have been a victim of fraud, you can report it from next month by telephoning 0300 123 2040 or through the internet at www.actionfraud.police.uk to get both action and support.