Latest Which? research has mapped fraud hotspots in the UK and revealed the ways that you could be targeted. So do you recognise any of these scams?
When we drilled down into the data, we found that some people could be more likely to be victims of certain types of fraud than others. We’ve picked out typical victim profiles for a few different fraud types.
The analysis of reported fraud suggests that where you live might affect what types of scams you’re likely to be exposed to. We looked at exclusive stats released to us by Action Fraud and managed to identify hotspots for several different types of fraud.
But we wanted to find out if there are more patterns in the data. What types of areas were being targeted by different types of fraud and whether there are any links between fraud and the average age of people in a certain area, for example?
In analysing the data we were able to identify hotspots for certain types of reported fraud – such as Norfolk being the capital for dating scams and Northamptonshire the capital of fraud against shops.
Unfortunately, full data for Scotland and Northern Ireland isn’t yet available as Scotland isn’t a member of Action Fraud and Northern Ireland only joined in 2015. To give you an indication of the most common types of fraud reported in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the graph below shows data collected between 2014-16.
The data we looked at suggests that people living in areas with younger populations – like London, West Midlands and Bedfordshire – had higher rates of reported lender loan fraud, where people are duped into paying fees for fake loans.
However, areas with older average ages, like Dyfed-Powys, Dorset, and Devon and Cornwall, were much more likely to report falling victim to computer-fixing fraud. This type of scam where someone pretending to be from a tech company, like Microsoft, tells you there’s a problem with your computer and offers to fix it for a fee.
We decided to ask the police what the typical ‘victim profile’ for different types of frauds looked like, and their details confirmed our suspicions. The police said that victims of computer-fixing fraud were likely to be women, aged 70-79, living in rural areas. The average loss for this type of scam is about £90.
For reported cheque, card and online banking fraud, women are also marginally more likely to be victims than men, but the most common age category was 20-29.
Separate Office for National Statistics data also suggests that those in managerial and professional occupations (with disposable income) are more likely to be a victim of this type of fraud.
And those aged 30-39 were more likely to be victims of fake or stolen products fraud than any other age group. Remarkably, the data also suggests that men are 50% more likely to be victims than women, while police put the average loss at £5,000.
According to the reported cases of fraud, door-to-door sales fraud mainly targeted men aged 80-89. Victims were also more likely to live in urban areas where fraudsters can target multiple homes in a short period. The average loss for this type of fraud can be up to £4,000.
We don’t know for sure if fraudsters are actively targeting people in this way. However, with fraud on the rise nationally, we want the government to set out an ambitious agenda for tackling fraud and scams.
Have you spotted any of these scams in your local area? Do you know people that have fallen victim to them? Do you want the government to do more to protect victims of scams?