VICTORIA BISCHOFF: When will the government act against fraud?

VICTORIA BISCHOFF: If the government outlines the plan to tackle crime, how many more people have to lose their savings before ministers commit fraud?

Combating the crime epidemic topped ministers’ to-do lists this week.

Forcing bastards to clean up the streets and arrest drug gangs – what’s not to like?

But there was one glaring omission in the government’s master plan: tackling fraud. We are faced with a scam of epic proportions, targeting millions of innocent victims every year.

Stop it: There is a desperate lack of urgency to stem this devastating crime wave

Stop it: There is a desperate lack of urgency to stem this devastating crime wave

The stolen money is used by crooks to finance serious organized crime, such as terrorism, human trafficking and drug imports.

Yet there is a desperate lack of urgency to stop this devastating crime wave.

As the Mail reported this week, the number of fraud convictions has fallen to its lowest level in 14 years.

So it was very depressing, if not entirely surprising, to hear that our best fraud detectives are now quitting because they feel so powerless.

According to David Clarke, chair of the Fraud Advisory Panel, many are fed up with being under-resourced and many are switching to a bank job, with one even becoming a train driver.

To have any hope of turning the tide against fraud, ministers must intervene.

An easy place to start would be to review our national fraud reporting service. Right now, Action Fraud isn’t much better than a data-gathering exercise, with only 14 percent of cases being passed on to the police.

And while all scam victims are urged to alert the agency if they’re targeted by scammers, readers tell us time and time again they’ll never hear from them again. Action Fraud has a goldmine of information that can be used to identify patterns in other fraud cases and lead to an increase in prosecutions. But experts are needed at the helm who are able to make better use of this damning evidence.

Banks should also be forced to divulge the details of every scam they handle.

When Money Mail asked the largest High Street banks if they do this, some said it is up to customers to report the scam to Action Fraud or only report cases with losses of £2,000 or more. Some wouldn’t even say what they’re doing – suggesting very little.

Only TSB said it reports all scams that involve paying a refund — about 99 percent of the cases it sees.

As criminals continue to exploit the pandemic to defraud victims, a more concerted effort must be made to stop these crooks.

How many more people have to lose their savings before ministers take action?

Avoid debt trap

Debt advisory vultures have never been more productive.

You just need to type “debt help” into Google and the free charities mentioned above are a plethora of companies that claim to solve your money problems.

In reality, they are more interested in taking advantage of your misery by giving you a costly debt plan.

Social media sites, like Instagram, are no better, with D-list celebrities eager to make money by giving irresponsible advice. As we reveal on pages 36 and 37, the fragmented regulation has allowed debt firms to get away with preying on the vulnerable for far too long.

An additional 1.5 million households affected by the pandemic are expected to need help with debt this year. More needs to be done to protect them from rampant mis-selling.

Phone jammer

Thanks for sharing all your brilliant tips to fight scam calls – scammers will bitterly regret calling Money Mail readers.

One of my favorite emails was from Auriole Priest, who said she likes to sing to the tune of Bob Marley’s Jammin: ‘You’re scamming, don’t want to scam it with you, you’re scamming and I know you are scamming too’. Hysterical.

Another reader, Dave Llewellyn, said he was polite at first when dealing with cold calls, but found that when he was on a call, he got more and more calls, until he got six or more a day. After responding in a more colorful way, he only gets one a week.

For those who find nuisance calls annoying, your best defense is a call blocking service, which most major phone providers now offer.

And if an unwanted call creeps in, just hang up.