Financial fraud cost the UK economy £2 million in 2016, figures from anti-fraud agency Financial Fraud Action (FFA) reveal.

The figures indicate a significant rise on the overall scale of financial fraud to £768.8 million, an increase on the £755 million lost in 2015.

Fraud and cybercrime now account for nearly half of all crime, according to the British Crime Survey.

Simple Steps

New research reveals that 74% of people are worried about falling victim to financial fraud and more than six in ten people worry about their families being targeted. 

However, the majority of people has never discussed safety with anyone, with more than 55% consider the subject too complicated to talk about.

The problem is that, as the banks get better at preventing fraud, criminals are turning to tricking people out of their personal details and money. 

Tony Blake, senior fraud prevention officer at the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, said: “There are simple steps that we can all take to protect ourselves and those around us when it comes to financial fraud, so it is concerning that almost three quarters of people admit they have never discussed the issue.

Taking that moment allows us all the opportunity to follow the simple advice which will better protect us from fraudsters.”

Stop and think

Police experts say that many are aware of the dangers of giving out their personal details but are still getting caught out.

Research from FFA shows that three quarters of people say they are aware of fraudsters’ tricks.

But more than a quarter admit they will go against their gut instinct and provide personal details to someone claiming to be from their bank even if they think they shouldn’t.

Commonly people said they shared details because the person seemed genuine (43%) while many said they did it because they felt pressured (39%).

Almost four in t10 (38%) said they did it because they were in a rush and wanted to get off the phone quickly.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of victims of financial fraud admitted they fell for scam because the fraudster was very convincing.

Worryingly, more than a third (37%) of victims could tell they were being scammed during the conversation but still carried on and nearly a quarter (23%) realised after a conversation ended.

Katy Worobec, Director of FFA UK, said: “As today’s figures highlight, this remains a significant problem with fraudsters using increasingly sophisticated methods to circumvent bank technology and target victims.

"While the payments industry stops 6 in every 10 pounds of attempted fraud, it cannot solve the problem alone. Collective action is needed with banks, police and customers all playing their part."

Five steps to keep safe

FFA has provided five simple tips to help you avoid falling victim to financial fraud.

1. Never disclose security details, such as your Pin or full password.

2. Never assume an email request or caller is genuine – people aren’t always who they say they are.

3. Don’t be rushed – a bank or genuine organisation won’t mind waiting to give you time to stop and think.

4. Listen to your instincts – if something feels wrong then it is usually right to pause and question what’s happening.

5. Stay in control – have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for information.

[Read more: Police warn of tiny hidden cameras designed to steal Pin numbers at cashpoints]

Fighting backTake Five fraud campaign

The Take Five campaign led by the FFA and backed by the police, banking industry and consumer groups, is shining the light on scams through emails (known as phishing), phone (vishing) and text-based cons (smishing) and with the message to people with busy lives to stop and think and not become easy targets.

Ben Wallace, Home Office Security Minister, said: “The impact of financial fraud can be devastating on victims, with fraudsters using increasingly cunning and convincing tactics.

They prey on people who are trying to get on with their lives but in a moment where they are busy or distracted become vulnerable.

The message of the Take Five campaign is don’t be hurried or hustled, take a moment before you give out any personal information.”

More on scams and how to avoid them