The Quarterly Fraud Report from our personal finance experts analyses police figures to reveal where in the UK has seen the biggest rise in fraud and cyber crime.
Cyber crime has been dominating the headlines over the past two years as fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks. Successful criminals are stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds from just a single intrusion in some cases.
Our latest Quarterly Fraud and Cyber Crime Report reveals a sharp rise in fraudulent activity, with a loss of more than £1.8 billion to Brits from January - September 2021.
One of the benefits of using a credit card is that you're protecting yourself against fraud. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act is a legal act that protects you when spending on your credit card, but only applies to credit card transactions between £100 and £30,000.
In the third quarter of 2021, there were 96,497 recorded cases of fraud and cyber crime in the UK, resulting in £584 million in losses, averaging at over £6k in losses per victim.
In the first quarter of the year, there were 137,695 crimes reported between January 2021 to March 2021 with losses totalling to £625.6 million. In Q2 the number of crimes decreased by 15% (116,042 reported crimes) with reported losses falling by £75.8 million quarter to quarter. However, despite reported cases dropping even further in Q3 (19% decrease), those victim of fraud during these three months had greater amounts stolen with reported losses increasing quarter to quarter by £35.2 million.
The analysis shows that so far from January - September 2021, Brits have lost a whopping £1.8 billion to fraudsters.
|Crime category||Number of reports (Q3 2021)||Reported losses||Average loss per victim||Number of reports (Q2 2021)||Reported losses|
|Other Financial Investment||3,294||£78,300,000||£23,770||3,772||£107,800,000|
|Cheque, Plastic Card and Online Bank Accounts||6,268||£52,000,000||£8,296||6,938||£59,300,000|
|Share Sales or Boiler Room Fraud||1,357||£33,800,000||£24,908||1,847||£49,500,000|
|Other Cosumer Non Investment Frauds||6,333||£29,700,000||£4,690||6,478||£33,500,000|
|Online Shopping and Auctions||19,465||£19,700,000||£1,012||21,511||£16,400,000|
|Other Advance Fee Frauds||6,227||£8,400,000||£1,349||7,371||£8,700,000|
|Door to Door Sales and Bogus Tradesman||1566||£8,300,000||£5,300||1335||£6,200,000|
|Hacking - Social Media and Email||3,397||£4,600,000||£1,354||3,175||£2,700,000|
|Computer Software Service Fraud||2,774||£4,400,000||£1,586||4,263||£6,300,000|
|Computer Virus \ Malware \ Spyware||1,589||£89,300||£56||2,049||£283,800|
|Hacking - Personal||1292||£1,500||£1||1298||£182,400|
|Crime category||Number of reports (Q1 2021)||Losses (Q1 2021)|
|Online Shopping and Auctions||28173||17400000|
|Other Cosumer Non Investment Frauds||7086||51500000|
|Cheque, Plastic Card and Online Bank Accounts||6793||45800000|
|Other Advance Fee Frauds||9520||12500000|
|Hacking - Social Media and Email||3154||341200|
|Other Financial Investment||3614||103700000|
|Computer Software Service Fraud||6228||8000000|
|Computer Virus \ Malware \ Spyware||2132||518100|
|Door to Door Sales and Bogus Tradesman||1042||4200000|
|Share Sales or Boiler Room Fraud||1986||45600000|
|Hacking - Personal||1501||97900|
Over the past pandemic year, there has been a significant increase in the number of consumers online shopping and the figures continue to rise month on month with the proportion of retail sales online soaring to 27.7%. With the increased uptake in retail sales, a rise in fraudulent activity has occurred too. So far this year, there have been 69,149 reported online shopping fraud cases, with losses equally £53.4 million.
The highest number of reported online shopping fraud cases fell in the first quarter of the year (January - March) at the peak of the pandemic with 28,173 cases.
Financial investment fraud came out on top for Q3 as the most financially damaging category of fraud with total losses from July to September equally £78.3 million - a 27% decrease in reported losses from Q2 - and an average loss per victim of £23.7k.
Those aged 20-29 were targeted the most by fraud and cyber crimes in Q3 of 2021. This was followed by those aged 30-39. Individuals younger than 70 were largely victims of online shopping and auctions fraud.
Those who are older more commonly experienced crimes in the categories of computer software fraud and advance fee fraud. Sadly, such crimes were more costly to victims than those who have experienced shopping and auctions fraud.
The report also looked into police force figures to understand which parts of the UK have experienced a significant change in crime figures. In Q3, all policing areas in the UK, apart from Jersey and Guernsey saw a decrease in reported cases, with nearly 43% of locations seeing a decrease in losses stolen.
Residents in the Isle of Man saw the greatest losses on average per victim at £100.8k, those living in Guernsey had the second highest average losses per victim at £30k and Jersey with £23.9k.
James Andrews, our personal finance expert said: “Brits so far this year have lost more than £1.8 billion as a result of fraud and cyber crimes, with figures rising in recent years, this is a reminder for us to protect our data online and be more vigilant when making purchases online.
“Using a credit card to pay for purchases, will give you extra protection when shopping online. If you pay for even part of an item costing between £100 and £30,000 using your credit card, then you get extra protection from your card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
“This allows you to claim a refund from your credit card provider if the seller can’t be contacted or rejects that they have done anything wrong.
“Making sure you have up to date antivirus software on your computer, phone and tablet can also help protect yourself from cyber attacks. Finally, as a rule of thumb, banks and other official bodies will never request details such as credit card numbers or other personal information over the phone or email.
“If you do find yourself in a position where you have unexpectedly lost money, it is important that your bank is made aware of this as soon as possible.”
It is easy to miss even the smallest details when shopping online, but simply checking a site URL can save shoppers from scams. Fake or spammy sites attempt to look as convincing as possible to seem similar to a website that you may often use. Such methods include replacing a letter with a close looking one or missing out a letter that may be hard to spot.
Shoppers should also watch out for websites that are represented through ‘.net’ or ‘.org’. These aren’t usually used for online shopping- ‘.com’ or ‘.co.uk’ are much more common.
While there are often great opportunities for discounts online, some product descriptions can be misleading or very different from what is advertised. If you are purchasing from a website as opposed to a third-party site, browse around to discover if the site is genuine. Usually, websites with counterfeit products will look less professional, with poor quality and unoriginal photos.
Additionally, pay attention to how the site is written. If you see lots of errors, such as spelling or grammatical, it’s likely it’s been put together in a hurry by someone looking to make a quick buck.
Most legitimate online retailers should allow you to pay by debit or credit card. You may also be offered the ability to pay using a known, reliable online method like PayPal. PayPal can be a good option as scammers will not be able to get hold of your bank details. Never pay by bank transfer when spending online, and especially not into someone's bitcoin or other cryptocurrency wallets, and check out the returns policy as well.
A quick and simple way to check you are browsing on a safe site is to look next to the URL. Make sure you are using an https:// or secure server internet connection. If the website has a padlock next to it, the website is usually secure. However, there are occasions where spammers buy a padlock for their site, so ensure you check out other elements of the website too.
If you pay by credit card when shopping online, you have extra protection for items costing between £100 and £30,000, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This means you can speak to your credit card company about getting a refund if you run into a problem with your purchase that has not been dealt with well by the retailer.
If you paid for your purchases using a debit card and then encounter problems, you might also be able to get help from your current account provider. You can do this by making a Chargeback claim. Policies such as the chargeback scheme, means you are covered if a purchase is in bad condition when it arrives, or doesn’t arrive at all.
Money.co.uk analysed fraud and cyber crimes reported to Action Fraud. Data was taken from the interactive dashboard and filtered according to the dates specified within the report.
Q1 data correct as of 1 April 2021
Q2 data correct as of 1 July 2021
Q3 data is correct as of 1 October 2021.
James is our senior personal finance editor and has spent the past 15 years writing and editing personal finance news. He has previously written for ReachPLC, was money editor of Mirror Online and Yahoo Finance UK, and has recently been quoted in City AM, Liverpool Echo and Daily Record as well as featured on national radio shows TalkRadio and the BBC.
James has spent the past 15 years writing and editing personal finance news, specialising in consumer rights, pensions, insurance, property and investments - picking up a series of awards for his journalism along the way.