Bank account fraudsters conned victims out of £2.3 million in the Avon & Somerset Police area throughout the pandemic, new figures reveal.
Crooks used lockdown to target vulnerable residents and trick them into handing over personal details and cash.
Data obtained from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau found that 571 residents in the region were victims of online bank fraud or the use of payment cards and cheques that were stolen, forged or cloned between April 2020 and March this year.
It places Avon & Somerset 15th worst out of 44 forces in the country for finance fraud and cost each of those targeted in the area an average of £4,028.
July 2020 was the worst month with 67 victims compared with September which saw the fewest at 31.
Nationally the con artists reaped more than £161 million from 25,717 cases.
The Metropolitan Police topped the list ahead of Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Thames Valley, Kent and West Yorkshire, while Cleveland Police had the fewest cases.
The figures were analysed by MoneyTransfers.com which has issued four top tips to safeguard your money.
- Stay vigilant and keep a close eye on your monthly bank statements to spot any unusual activity, as well as shredding any sensitive financial documents.
- Avoid public wifi hotspots such as coffee shops and libraries to access online banking.
- Take precautions and only access online banking via your bank provider’s official website and not by clicking a link in an email, and use the bank’s official app when using mobile banking.
- Have strong credentials by making your online banking password as sophisticated as possible, including using a combination of numbers, special characters and uppercase and lowercase letters, while avoiding making your bank card pin obvious, such as the current year or your date of birth.
Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter