THE battle to protect consumers against financial fraud is continuing to rage, in spite of growing awareness and campaigns to tackle the problem, as those intent on raiding consumers' bank accounts are using ever more elaborate means.

For instance, criminals are employing so-called "boiler room" tactics and high-pressure selling techniques to tempt people to invest in products which don't exist - anything from land-­banking schemes to carbon credits. The problem for victims is that they can be very convincing. Boiler room fraud involves groups, usually based overseas, cold-calling people to pressure them into buying shares that promise high returns but which, in fact, are either worthless or non-existent.

Watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has seen a rise in fraudulent websites which mimic the brochures of legitimate companies. So convincing is the literature offered that even experienced investors can fall foul of the scams.

FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley said: "Those operating investment scams use very sophisticated techniques to build trust and can dupe even experienced ­investors out of their savings. We would caution against anyone taking a risk on a firm or individual who isn't authorised by the FCA … don't accept a cold call."

The FCA also said to be wary of time-limited offers, and if risks are downplayed or the returns appear too good to be true.

Sadly, investment fraud is not the only financial threat out there. A poll from YouGov suggests millions of people in Britain are unwittingly leaving themselves exposed to fraudsters posing as banks.

The survey, commissioned by the British Bankers Association, found that about eight million people could be vulnerable to phishing - a practice which sees criminals posing as reputable organisations and sending emails in an attempt to secure personal information, such as bank account numbers and PINs.

The poll also found four million people might be convinced to transfer money into a supposedly safe account if instructed, with three million apparently willing to carry out "test transactions" online. And it suggested 1.7 million people would hand over bank account details to a courier at their door if that person had some form of ID card.

Figures prepared for the recent Get Safe Online Week, compiled by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, puts the cost of scams at more than £670 million.

However, the cost goes beyond the financial cost. The Get Safe survey suggests more than half (51%) of those who said they had been a victim of crimes such as identity theft, hacking or the distribution of computer viruses felt violated by the experience. A similar number (53%) said they now viewed online crime as seriously as "real world" crime, countering the argument that it is faceless or less important than other crimes.

In an effort to combat fraud, the BBA and other organisations have compiled a list of things banks will never do: ask for PINs or online passwords; send someone to your home to collect cash, bank cards or anything else; ask you to email or text banking information; email a link to a web page which asks customers to enter online banking login details; ask for authorisation to transfer funds to a new account or hand over cash; and ask to carry out a test transaction online.

And there are signs that people are changing their behaviour. Get Safe Online said 45% of those who identified themselves as a previous victim of online fraud had ­strengthened their passwords, while 42% said they were now more vigilant when shopping online.

But the fraudsters are not ­standing still. One of the latest scams doing the rounds is "number spoofing". This involves fraudsters cloning the phone number of the organisation they want to impersonate and making it appear on the caller ID display on their targets' phones. It often sees the ­criminal draw attention to the number, claiming it offers proof of identity.

The intelligence unit of industry body Financial Fraud Action UK said there is a simple remedy: never assume that someone is who they say they are just because the telephone number matches that of an organisation you know.

Another risk is in pension ­liberation schemes, which the Pension Regulator said has already cost savers up to £500m.

These promise the opportunity to unlock cash from pensions well before savers hit retirement age, sometimes as early as their 30s or 40s. It typically works by savers being asked to transfer pension savings into another scheme to ensure access to the funds. The companies orchestrating the schemes charge a fee or take money from savings in return for the service.

Pensions giant Standard Life has warned that some people who have taken part in such schemes have lost their entire savings and were left facing significant tax bills.

However, there is a silver lining among the clouds of fraud: data services company Experian said more fraud is being detected and prevented than a year ago, ­especially third-party fraud. It puts the improvement down to lenders becoming more effective.