New emergency 159 hotline launched to protect people from scammers
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Banks will launch a new emergency hotline for people to report online fraud as latest figures revealed victims in Suffolk were conned out of £17.6milllion in the past 13 months.
The new 159 number will put customers directly through to their bank's fraud prevention service to check whether they are being targeted by scammers.
The number, which will launch on Thursday, is being promoted by industry body Stop Scams UK and will run for a trial period of 12 months.
The group said fraudsters exploited the Covid-19 pandemic to find new ways to scam people.
It is hoped that the new scheme will prevent money being stolen from customers after victims across the UK were scammed out of £1.26billion last year.
If the pilot proves successful, Stop Scams UK, which is a coalition of banking and technology companies, said it will ask Ofcom to make 159 a universal number, similar to 101, 111 or 999.
Banks taking part include Barclays, Lloyds, NatWest, Santander and Starling Bank.
Suffolk saw a 30% increase in the number of fraud and computer hacking crimes during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to statistics.
Rolling data from Action Fraud revealed there were 4,636 reports of fraud and cyber crime made in the past 13 months, with reported losses of £17.6m.
- 1 Jailed in Suffolk: The criminals put behind bars this week
- 2 Winter art trail to bring cheer to the streets of Stowmarket
- 3 5 roadworks to plan your journeys around in Suffolk this week
- 4 Burglar jailed for break-in at Stowmarket dental practice
- 5 Could you offer these rescue animals a forever home?
- 6 Christmas lighting display the 'spirit' of Stowmarket mum
- 7 Suffolk set to be battered by strong winds as weather warning issued
- 8 Omicron variant will come to Suffolk - county prepares to tackle it
- 9 Flood alert issued for Suffolk and north Essex coast
- 10 Parish council concerned about plans for new A14 service station
Ruth Evans, from Stop Scams UK, said: "Criminals rely on forcing people into heat-of-the-moment decisions, and calling 159 is a simple, practical tool to break their spell.
"Fraud is cruel, it wrecks lives, and we're determined to help people fight it."
Speaking in July, a spokesman for Suffolk police said: “We understand that fraud has a significant impact both on individuals and businesses and we work hard to understand this and support victims during these long and complex investigations.
“We closely monitor fraud reporting in conjunction with Action Fraud. Due to the way fraud is reported, the large numbers of online reports are often not Suffolk-based, so focus locally is on prevention and protection in these cases.
"The complexity, change and reliance of technology and sophistication of tactics by criminals has led to rise in all fraud nationally and is a global crime where criminals not restricted by geographical border.
"This can cover romance fraud, various scams or ‘phishing’ and even blackmail.
"Suffolk has a specialist cyber team in addition to specialist fraud trained officers who look to prosecute those found committing such offences, as well as alerting the public about fraud prevention wherever possible."