Just weeks after it was claimed that consumers have to “jump through hoops” to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office about the misuse of their personal data, new evidence has emerged that reporting fraud is even harder.
According to a Freedom of Information request by ThisisMoney.co.uk, consumers typically have to wait over 11 minutes for Action Fraud to answer the phone, with only 68% of calls answered during its core hours of 8am to 8pm, and just 62% at night.
By contrast, HMRC answers 86% of calls, and it takes an average of just over 4 minutes to get through.
James Daley, founder of the consumer group Fairer Finance, said it was vital for crime victims to be able to contact Action Fraud quickly, otherwise “there was little point in having the centre”.
He added: “Often time is of the essence in recouping money taking by scammers, so it defeats the object to be left waiting on the phone, or left waiting weeks for a response by email.”
Detective Chief Inspector Alex Hayman of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, which runs Action Fraud with City of London Police, said: “We appreciate we’re not perfect and we get things wrong, and we could do better. We could do with more staff [but] we have to be smarter at how we fight fraud too.” The agency has about 60 staff at its headquarters in London and 85 in a call centre in Glasgow.
Of all reports received by Action Fraud, about 19 per cent are referred to the police and just over one in 10 of those result in a conviction, according to the FOI request.
Action Fraud is due to launch a new IT system in the coming weeks, which it said will help staff to categorise crime reports more quickly. Also, for the first time, fraud victims will be able to follow the progress of their cases online.
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