A scheme that sees banks, building societies and Post Offices work with police stopped fraud worth more than £250,000 in Cumbria in the first half of this year.

The Banking Protocol led to nearly 60 emergency calls being made in the county between January and July, protecting customers from losing an average of £5,710 to criminals.

This is a UK-wide scheme, launched by UK Finance, National Trading Standards and local police forces.

Branch staff are trained to spot the warning signs that suggest a customer may be falling victim to a scam, before alerting their local police force to intervene and investigate.

The Banking Protocol was rolled out by Cumbria Constabulary in August 2017 and since March 2018, the scheme has been implemented by all 45 police forces across the UK.

It is often used to prevent impersonation scams, in which criminals imitate police or bank staff and convince people to visit their bank and withdraw or transfer money.

Detective Inspector Duncan Brooker, of Cumbria's economic crime unit, said: “Fraud is big business for criminals.

“It's an area of criminality that is notoriously difficult to prevent and detect, because there are just so many different types of scams in existence.

“The Banking Protocol plays a vital role in trying to prevent people from becoming victims of potential fraud."

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said:

“Online and phone scams are prevalent in today’s society, where criminals no longer need to leave their home to pick a victim

“Fraud can have a serious impact on a victim, not only financially but mentally and socially as well so it’s great to see that branch staff are being trained to spot the signs and prevent crimes taking place."

UK Finance is urging customers to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, and remember a bank or the police will never ask you to transfer funds to another account or to withdraw cash to hand over to them for safe-keeping.