/ Technology

MPs want clearer advice on online fraud, so do we!

Shadow of a hand on a keyboard

If you saw a fire, you’d call the fire brigade. If you broke a leg, you’d call an ambulance. But if you found yourself to be the victim of online fraud, would you know who to call, or is online protection just too confusing?

According to the Cabinet Office’s Cost of Cyber Crime report, the economic impact of cyber crime on UK citizens is £3.1bn per year.

Everything from ‘scareware’ (fake anti-virus software) to online scams and identity theft takes it toll on internet users. We’re are increasingly at risk, but the worst thing is that if something goes wrong, we’re left with little clear advice about who to turn to.

Who you gonna call?

MPs are demanding that the government invests in a large scale campaign to make UK internet users fully aware of who they should turn to in the event of online fraud. The government’s own sponsored website, Get Safe Online, is hopelessly in need of investment and is far off most people’s radars.

Andrew Miller, the MP who chairs the Commons Science and Technology Committee, insists that instead of scaremongering about the risks of online fraud, people need better clarification about who to turn to in the event of cyber crime:

‘Knowledge is the best defence against fear, so the government should focus on raising awareness of how to stay safe online.’

Take steps to protect yourself

What do you do to protect your identity when you’re online? Do you know how to avoid likely scams – or who to go to if you fall for one? If you do become the victim of online crime, these are the organisations to speak to:

  • Online fraud: Contact Action Fraud who will generate a crime reference number for you, but they won’t investigate the incident directly. Contact your local police with this reference number, and contact the website you think may have committed fraud, alerting them that you have raised this with the authorities.
  • Banking fraud and ID theft: Your first port of call must be to contact your own bank to alert them to the incident. Contact Action Fraud for a crime reference number. You can also contact the Financial Services Ombudsman for free resolution of the issue.
  • Online scams: If you suspect an online scam, or have been the victim of one, you can contact Trading Standards as well as your local police services. If you suspect an online retailer is committing a scam, contact the Office of Fair Trading.

So the organisations are out there, but I think people are still being left in the dark about who to contact in the event of online fraud. How many of these organisations have you heard of – or would you have known to contact?

While it’s great that MPs want a new campaign, we’d like to see a centralised and organised government resource that’s straightforward to access and offers people simple, understandable solutions to incidents of fraud.

Essentially, the internet is more accessible than ever before – the advice that helps us protect ourselves online needs to be as well.


Have had scams – but very easy to spot – as they demand a reply or your ID or click on to access the “website”. I ignore all “cold internet callers”.

I have reported one or two to the real companies concerned when they seemed very plausible – they were not acknowledged.

Have had one case of card fraud where someone took £3.50 out of my card account (I check my financial position every other day) – I reported it to the bank – but the fraudster still took a further £300 out of it a couple of days later – Reported it again – Changed card number – Bank reimbursed the cash.

I normally say no thank you to these calls which I receive on a regular basis. On a recent occassion I was experiencing problems with internet explorer and the caller was convincing. He wanted remote access to my computer and that set alarm bells ringing. His supervisor came onto the line and told me that my computer had been hacked and hew knew this because they were given the information by Microsoft and that if I visited there website it would confirm that they were listed as a microsoft local aghent. I did so while holding on and it did indeed say that. The Company name is ­gtechsupport. I told them that I would contact microsoft direct as I was not convinced;which I did. Microsoft said that they would never subcontract information and would deal with any such matters direct with the customer. Gtech called me back a day later and I told their supervisor that I thought the whole thing was a scam.

I deal with all cold callers in the same way. I tell them that I do not respond to cold callers and put the phone down. If it purported to be a company that I normally have dealings with I might give them more of a hearing but wouldn’t give any personal details or access to my computer and would ask them to write/email ( the genuine company would already hold the necessary details). I always remain extremely guarded when answering the phone to someone I don’t know.

Peter says:
25 February 2012

Mostly the calls show up on the ‘phone as “International Out of Area”, and I just do not bother answering those. If I do answer I like to let them talk a bit, making the occasional grunting noises of surprise or what seems appropriate. When they get to the bit about they can help, I like to ask them again who they are, as often they introduce themselves as Microsoft, and throw in Windows as many times as they can, eventually they will admit they are not Microsoft, and I then get them to tell me the name of their company. If they haven’t rung off yet I ask them how they know I have a problem – they nearly always reply they have received a report from Microsoft, my next question is then how do Microsoft know. They reply that my computer sent it. I know for a fact that these reports are made, but Microsoft does not share the information, especially as most are not traceable back to the user anyway. My next step is to tell either – my computer has not been working for weeks, my computer is not connected to the internet, I don’t have a computer, I’m running on Linux, The call frequently ends abruptly at this point. If it doesn’t I usually thank them for their time and say I do not wish to participate in their scam – please delete my name from their records. The calls then dry up for quite a while.

Judy Cashmore says:
27 February 2012

My response to a recent “microsoft” call telling me about viruses downloading onto my computer was “This is a scam. You know it is. Get yourself a decent job” Phone down. Very satisfying!

Judy Cashmore says:
27 February 2012

My response to a recent microsoft call about viruses downloading was
“This is a scam. You know it is. Get yourself a decent job”
Phone down. Very satisfying!

The problem is Deregulation from the Government & no responsibility or ethics from those in charge leading to institutionalised fraud with police colluding . Advice? From a Call Centre?.Head Offices have been disbanded in fact many are these Call centres directed by sole accountants for their own gain when Governments, Customer & public services do it we are on a hiding to nothing . Yesterday it was the Police not recognising fraud from Harley St & Internet .Often it is the Banks, Media Regulatory organisations & Charities.
DECONSTRUCT & bring back the Managers with Discretion & Compensation.This is false economy.The Government needs to take a firm line.

I have just had one of these calls advising that there is a problem with my PC. I told the caller he was a sham and put the ‘phone down. What really annoys me is that the caller addressed me by name. How do they know this and from whom? Two or three times a day we get unsolicited calls from ‘abroad’ again all knowing our names and what’s more our ex directory ‘phone number. Yes, were are signed up with TPS (recently rechecked) but know they don’t protect against outside UK callers. I just wish there was a satisfying way of getting revenge against these pests!!

JANE says:
9 November 2012

If a phone call i leave the phone of the hook!!
I type ” I don’t believe it!!!”

Try answering in Welsh (“Shamm-eye” is the phonetic for ‘Hello’ for example). The start talking ‘welsh’ – as in
“ABBAFLYARF” + “DIM SHARRAG CUMRYDE” {I do not speak welsh [almost phonetic]} along with things like “PONTYPREETH, ABERTOWY C*M-BYE-YER”.
I find it great fun; theraputic and it really hisses them off!!!!

I have been a victim of fraud recently. It all started when I received a package over the weekend. Thinking that my wife might have ordered something from EBAY, I collected the item by signing for it. Then I discovered that my wife wasn’t expecting any package and it was for me. Since it was addressed to me, I opened it to find that it was empty. So I called up Royal mail to inquire about this package. They told me that the sender was someone based in Yorkshire and has posted it from a different location in Yorkshire. It sounded suspicious so I called up the police who advised me to call Royal email stating that it could be an error on part of Royal Mail admin and that they can’t help any further. Couple of days later, I received notifications from EBAY that all my items have been dispatched. I immediately checked my credit card and shockingly, this person has been making transactions since Christmas last year. I haven’t been checking my credit card as most of my expenses come out of my debit card. I had setup a direct debit to pay for my credit card from my debit card.I had to call the bank to get my credit card blocked and have been working with them to refund me all these transactions. But once I blocked my credit card, this person started using my debit card. So I quickly moved on to block my debit card and to my disbelief, the person started using my debit card from a different bank account. All my cards have been blocked but after this I am being bombarded with packages of items (some of which my son had searched on the internet). I discovered that the person had cloned my EBAY account to create three more accounts through which he was ordering items using my card information. I called up Action Fraud police to register complaints and the matter is under investigation. Unfortunately neither EBAY nor the banks are ready to divulge any information and they are stating that they can only give information to law enforcement agencies. I haven’t heard anything from Action Fraud police. It has been traumatic three weeks for me as I have been going back and forth between banks, EBAY, PAYPAL, Action Fraud police & Royal Mail. I am in a helpless situation with no help from anyone and am really scared to use my cards again.

I have been thinking hard as to how this person was able to get my card details. My only conclusion is that the person might have used a card reader to steal the information as all my cards that have been compromised are contact less. I have used my credit card a lot online but I have never used one of debit card online (not even to withdraw cash). I think the reason for sending an empty package in the first instance was to look for my signature online on the Royal Mail website.

I have scanned my laptops using multiple anti virus software but couldn’t find any malware or virus on them. I can’t figure out how the person was able to view items that my son had searched for and why the person is sending me all these packages to my address. No one has been able to answer this so far.

The only thing I could do so far is register with Experian and guard myself with web & alerts monitoring against fraudulent usage of my details.

Any help/suggestions from you in this regard would be greatly appreciated. I also hope this would serve as a help to other people to take extra precautions when using contact less cards.

Hi GI, thanks for sharing your story – it sounds awful and I’m so sorry to hear about this. It seems that you taken all the necessary steps to report the fraud and register with Experian to monitor your account. It’s astonishing that this has affected a number of your cards and that you suspect a card reader is the culprit – we haven’t come across this before. It’s not fair that you’re being kept in the dark, but this seems to be owing to the investigation. It would be worth ensuring that you’ve changed passwords on your Ebay and PayPal accounts too, and I’m assuming that your bank is issuing you with new cards too?