Crude card scams increasing again

Credit cardsA rise in crude, old-fashioned scams drove up UK card fraud losses for the first time since 2008 last year, new figures show.

Losses on credit and debit cards increased by 14% year-on-year to £388 million following three years of annual falls, as advances in technology have made payments systems more secure, industry body Financial Fraud Action said.

The recent increase is said to be triggered by a rise in "crude scams" as criminals try to bypass security methods such as chip and pin by duping people into handing over their own cards, pins and passwords.

This includes distracting people in shops and bars, or shoulder surfing at cash machines and then stealing customers' cards without them noticing, and tricking them at home into handing over their card details.

Online banking fraud losses rose by 12% compared with 2011 to reach £39.6 million last year. Financial Fraud Action said the rise was largely driven by fake websites which have tricked people into giving away their online banking login details.

So-called phishing websites and emails are set up to dupe customers into believing they are communicating with their bank or building society so that they will hand over their login details, passwords and other personal details. But the chances of becoming a card fraud victim are still relatively low despite the recent increases, Financial Fraud Action said.

The amount lost to fraud as a proportion of the amount people spend on cards represents 7p for every £100, down from the 12p per £100 recorded in 2008 when fraud was at a peak.

The industry says people can protect themselves by not telling anyone else their pin, not responding to emails or calls claiming to be from the bank and asking customers for their pin, shielding their pin when they are out shopping and only buying goods on secure websites.

Detective Inspector David Timmins, from the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit, said: "As a consequence of more robust security features, criminals are resorting to low-tech deception crimes designed to dupe customers into parting with their cards, pins and financial passwords.

"These fraudsters can be highly persuasive, so our message to customers is simple: your bank or the police will never call, visit or email you to request your login details or pin, or to collect your card. If you receive such a request, it will always be fraud. So protect yourself and call the police."

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