More than a third of small firms fail to report fraud and online crime because of a lack of faith in the UK police system, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
But fraud is costing the average SME £800 a year, the FSB has claimed.
As a result the organisation, which polled 1,823 UK SMEs for the research, is calling for a designated fraud and e-crime reporting centre to be set up by the government to combat the fraudsters.
It is also calling for a local police contact to specialise on fraud and e-crime with smaller businesses, and for banks to take responsibility for informing businesses up front about the risks of card not present (CNP) fraud.
FSB figures showed that 54 per cent of respondents reported being a victim of crime in the last 12 months, 37 experienced problems with phishing emails, 15 per cent fell victim to CNP fraud, and another 15 per cent fell foul of IT problems caused by viruses and hackers.
However, an 85 per cent majority of small businesses in Scotland and England claimed they would report fraud if a dedicated reporting centre was set up. Wales already has a reporting centre in place.
Mike Cherry, FSB home affairs chairman, said: “E-crime is becoming an increasingly serious issue for small firms, which are losing up to £800 a year to fraud and online crime – a cost which could have a significant impact on a small business.
“The internet is a huge and unregulated area but businesses have to have confidence that there are at least some structures there to support them. It is important that the Met Police E Crime Unit and the National Fraud Reporting Centre must work hand in hand to set up an effective system to gather intelligence and use it to investigate and prosecute when this crime occurs. Businesses are currently simply being left very exposed,” he said.
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