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Crime and victims


Fraud happens when somebody uses deception to obtain goods, services or money. It is a serious problem in the UK, and we are working hard to prevent it.

The face of fraud changes as technology advances. It is our job to help you take steps to prevent fraud from occurring in the first place.

When it does occur, we intend to be sure that it's dealt with it effectively.

You can help stop it

To stop it, we need your help. Every year fraud costs the economy billions of pounds:

  • a report commissioned in 2007 by the Association of Chief Police Officers estimated the cost of fraud to be at least £13.9bn a year. (See the Fraud in the UK (new window) report)
  • plastic card fraud alone cost £535m in 2007, an increase of more than £100m over 2006 (figures published by APACS, the UK Payment Industry)

So everybody needs to take some steps to protect themselves. You can help us make life harder for fraudsters.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Here are a few simple precautions that you can take to ensure you don’t become a victim of fraud:

  • be alert when using your cheque or credit card; keep your plastic cards and account information safe at all times
  • don't send money in response to unsolicited letters or phone calls
  • dispose of any documents bearing your name and address and any other personal details carefully
  • visit Cardwatch (new window) - a useful source of information on payment card fraud and its prevention, and Banksafe online (new window) which is designed to help those using online banking to stay safe
  • visit the Metropolitan Police fraud alert website (new window) for information about current scams and frauds, and what to do if you think you have been a victim of fraud 

What if it happens to you?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, if you need to report card or bank account fraud, you should immediately contact your bank or card company. Credit card companies and banks are responsible for verifying the crime, and reporting it to the police.

Get some advice

Here are some more places where you can find useful fraud prevention tips and advice from the professionals:

What we're doing to prevent fraud

In 2008, the government allocated £29m to be spent putting into place recommendations made in a cross-government fraud review conducted by the attorney general.

A fraud strategic authority is leading the battle, and, when it's up and running, a fraud reporting centre will improve police intelligence about fraudsters operating in the country.

Dedicated cheque and plastic crime unit

This specialist police unit that we established with the help of the card industry, is working to reduce organised card and cheque fraud using intelligence provided by the card industry.

So far, it has prevented more than £230m from falling into the hands of fraudsters.

We’re also working closely with the police and card industry to deal with so-called 'card not present fraud', which takes place in transactions where the cardholder and the seller don't come face to face. These transactions usually take place over the phone and on the internet.

Chip and PIN

We have supported the finance and retail industries in introducing Chip and PIN, which is helping fight certain types of plastic card fraud.

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Related documents

Home Office websites