UK.gov failing to prevent £10bn of annual online fraud, say MPs

Spending watchdog says buck stops with Home Office

The government is not doing enough to prevent Brits being defrauded by £10bn per year, according to a spending watchdog report.

The Public Accounts Committee said today that 2 million cyber-related fraud incidents were reported last year, however it is estimated just 20 per cent of incidents are reported.

Online fraud is "now too vast a problem for the Home Office to solve on its own", it claimed, although it wished to remain in charge if anyone else cared to make an effort there as the department "remains the only body that can provide strategic national leadership".

The report also found that banks do not accept enough responsibility for preventing and reducing online fraud

Chair of the body Meg Hillier said: “The government must get better at explaining the tricks employed by fraudsters to target different groups, and set out clearly the action it is taking to tackle them.”

The Home Office has yet put in place effective arrangements for its oversight of a "coordinated and effective" response to online fraud and for reporting on its progress.

But it lacks data to judge whether its response to tackling online fraud is working. "Effective action can only be underpinned properly if the Department understand the nature and scale of the threat."

The report also found that banks do not accept enough responsibility for preventing and reducing online fraud and there is no data available to assess how well individual banks are performing.

"The Department should press the banking industry to make relative online fraud vulnerability performance data publicly available," it said.

"Unless all banks start working together, including making better use of technology, there will be little progress on tackling card fraud and returning money to customers." ®

In his budget last month, Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced a crackdown on online marketplace fraud.

The long-called-for plans will make online platforms such as Amazon and eBay liable for VAT. That move is intended to clamp down on online VAT fraud, which costs tax payer £1.2bn per year. ®

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