Britain's financial fraud hotspots

Berkshire revealed as Britain's financial fraud hotspot

Berkshire has been identified as the UK's hotspot for financial fraud with one in every 117 residents falling victim to criminals.

Fraudsters are targeting the affluent South East of England the most, with one in every 413 residents swindled according to research carried out by OnStride Financial.

The West Midlands is the safest region to live in as one in every 1,140 residents are blighted, while the North West and the Yorkshire and Humberside region are a close second and third with one in every 836 and 830 targeted respectively.

On a national basis, the Welsh are most at risk from fraudsters with one in every 430 falling prey to theft. Those in Northern Ireland are by far the most safe with one in every 2,181 defrauded.

Across the UK, fraudsters strike every two minutes and 24 seconds and the average amount stolen in an individual incident of fraud is around £3,000.

In 2014, £670m is believed to have been stolen through a variety of different fraudulent activities, with the British public reporting more than 221,00 cases.

"With banks using increasingly sophisticated security systems to protect their customers, fraudsters now try to con members of the public into giving away personal or financial details," says Katy Worobec, director of Financial Fraud Action UK.

"These criminals are after people's PINs, passwords and passcodes - effectively tricking them into handing over the keys to the door."

She added: "Fraudsters try to take advantage of people's trusting nature. They will pose as bank staff, police officers, government officials, utility companies and sometimes might know a bit about you already."

As we increasingly conduct our financial transactions online, be it for buying our weekly shop to booking concert tickets, cyber criminals are able to easily target people without leaving their house.

"That's why it's vital to be wary of any calls, texts or emails out of the blue asking for your personal or financial information," warned Worobec.

"Your bank will never call you to ask for your four-digit PIN or your online banking password, or for you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons."

In 2014 identity theft stood for 49% of all reported fraud cases, falsified applications came in at 17% and account hijacking at 14%.

Not only are we moving more and more online but we are increasingly relying on mobile phone apps to conduct basic banking transactions or make every day purchases.

These apps can potentially be dangerous, harbouring viruses intent on hacking your financial and personal information.

Financial Fraud Action UK advises people to only download apps from official app stores and to make sure phones are updated with the latest security patches and upgrades.

"Just like on your computer, there are anti-virus tools available for your mobile device. Some banks offer customers free anti-virus software for their mobile phones, so check your bank's website for more information," said Worobec.

"Remember, never reveal any details unless you are absolutely sure who it is you are dealing with."

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