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The role of business in helping protect the nation against financial fraud

Fraud is big business, and poses a major threat to the UK economy. Whilst it’s easy to assume that email, phone and online fraud only affects the careless and the vulnerable, the truth is that every one of us, as well as every business, is a potential target.

If you need convincing, the 2019 Fraudscape Report from Cifas revealed that company directors are more than twice as likely to be the victims of identity fraud compared to the rest of the general population. Fraud: The Facts found that corporate invoice and mandate scams resulted in losses totalling £114.1 million in 2019.

The finance industry is committed to tackling all types of financial fraud and identify theft, but it’s going to take the combined efforts of every sector, both public and private, to tackle the problem effectively.

O2 takes fraud very seriously, and we are proud to be part of Take Five to Stop Fraud, a national campaign that offers straightforward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud. This includes fraudulent emails, phone calls, texts messages or social media posts – particularly where criminals impersonate trusted organisations. We have partnered up with the other mobile operators, UK Finance and Gov UK to help raise awareness of mobile fraud in particular.

Phishing, smishing and vishing

You may already know about phishing, where criminals attempt to get hold of sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and card details, by pretending to be a trustworthy source in an email. But as phishing emails have become easier to spot, the fraudsters have turned to other ways to catch victims out. For example, when the fraud happens through text message, it’s known as smishing, and when someone calls you, it’s vishing. 

Could you be the next victim?

Increasingly, we carry out our lives on our mobile devices. More than ever before, we need the confidence, knowledge and ability to identify potential mobile fraud, whether from phone calls, text, email or social media.

Could you spot a fake mobile ad on a social media feed, for example? Or would you be able to distinguish between a genuine and fake text message from your bank? The Take Five website has a quick, fun quiz for you to try out. Why not try it for yourself?

If you pass the test, then that’s great. But remember that mobile fraud affects us all – would your employees spot a fraudulent email that appears to have been sent by you? What about your customers? It’s important for organisations, businesses and individuals to help spread the message and get involved in the Take Five campaign so we can protect the nation against financial fraud.

Take action

There are some simple habits we can all adopt, and some important things to keep in mind:

  • You bank will never ask for your PIN, nor will they ever request that you transfer your money to a new or different account.
  • You should avoid clicking on links contained in emails and text messages unless you’re 100% certain that they’re genuine.
  • You can forward any suspicious text message, including phone number or company name, to 7726. It won’t cost you anything and it means we can investigate the sender.

Above all, stop and think. It could protect you and your money. Follow Take Five’s 3-step advice:

  1. STOP – If you receive a request to make an urgent payment, change supplier bank details or provide financial information, take a moment to stop and think.
  2. CHALLENGE – Could it be fake? Verify all payments and supplier details directly with the company on a known phone number or in person first.
  3. PROTECT – Contact your business’s bank immediately if you think you’ve been scammed and report it to Action Fraud.


We want organisations, businesses and individuals to be able to spread the Take Five message and get involved in the campaign so we can all help protect the nation against financial fraud. For more information, visit the Take Five website, or download the Take Five Business Toolkit here.


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