UK financial services industry loses £3.6bn a year to fraud - NFA

UK financial services industry loses £3.6bn a year to fraud - NFA

The financial services industry loses around £3.6 billion a year to fraudsters, around 10% of the entire fraud cost to the UK economy, according to a government organisation.

The National Fraud Authority says that financial services accounted for the largest chunk of a £12 billion fraud loss attributed to the private sector during a year.

However, the figure was down slightly on the previous year's figure of £3.8 billion, thanks to improved fraud prevention methods involving plastic cards - resulting in a cut of £440 million - and cheque fraud - £30 million.

In contrast, online banking saw an increase of 14%, to £60 million. The NFA attributes this to criminals using more sophisticated methods to target customers through malware and a spike in phishing incidents.

Overall, £38.4 billion is lost in fraud a year, equivalent to £765 for every UK adult. The public sector continues to account for the highest proportion of this at £21 billion - 55% of the total - although the NFA says this is in part because of more diligent reporting. Individuals account for £4 billion and charities £1.3 billion.

Bernard Herdan, chief executive, NFA, says: "The NFA is working with its partners to promote greater fraud awareness and self-protection, encourage organisations to adopt fraud proof systems, enable fraud reporting and facilitate better sharing of intelligence on fraudsters. We want to develop a stronger counter fraud culture, which helps to disrupt fraudulent activity across the UK and globally."

You can read the full Annual Fraud Indicator here:

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Comments: (3)

David Divitt
David Divitt - VocaLink - London 27 January, 2011, 12:41Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Unfortunately, I'm not surprised by these figures. Fraud, of all types, is a serious problem across all areas of society, and I completely agree with the NFA that everyone has to play their part to help beat the criminals. For their part, banks in the UK and around the world make significant investments in their fraud prevention tools and people, using many different techniques to try to identify any suspicious activity and stop fraud as soon as they can. But it isn't enough to leave the problem to the government, police or banks, every single person must also take fraud seriously and try to protect themselves and their money.

This can be as simple as not throwing sensitive personal information in the bin, checking bank statements regularly and flagging anything suspicious, or protecting your PIN when withdrawing cash or using a card to pay in a shop or restaurant. It would be naïve to think we will ever be able to eliminate fraud completely, but there's no reason why we can't all work together to reduce it significantly.

Lachlan Gunn
Lachlan Gunn - BenAlpin Ltd - Perth 28 January, 2011, 08:32Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I am not at all surprised by the way that the NFA has presented these figures.  My headline would have been something more like:  'UK Public sector loses £21 billion in fraud, 55% of the overall annual total'.  The NFA (a public sector organisation?) glosses over this by saying that 'in part this is due to more diligent reporting'.  I'm still spinning from that one (apologies for the pun).

The published UK budget deficit (ONS) for December 2010 is £16.8 billion, with total net debt of £2322.7 billion.  In this age of austerity, significantly reducing public sector fraud losses would make a huge impact on the budget deficit, thereby reducing the needs for cuts elsewhere. 

The financial services industry is possibly the most diligent in trying to drive down fraud losses by investing in fraud prevention measures, and has seen some great success, partly due to the roll out of 'Chip and PIN' or EMV cards and terminals.

Instead of making excuses, it woul be nice if the public sector would invest a little more to seriously tackle this massive annual fraud loss figure........thereby (hopefully) reducing the austerity squeeze on the long suffering tax payer.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 04 February, 2011, 13:27Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

As ever the cheque fraud figures only include those that affect the banks themselves - forging signatures, changing amounts, stolen cheques and drafts etc.

They never include the cheques that are presented to suppliers of goods and services and then bounce. Sometime this is account mismanagement; issuing cheques in the hope that the funds will be there when the cheque is presented. However it is often a time wasting tactic or just plain fraud that is only appears in police crime figures and not those produced by the banking industry.

It would be good if the banking industry reported the number and value of cheques that are returned unpaid every day (and what proportion of the total cheques this represents). Some of these cheques will be represented and will be paid.