Card fraud – where criminals get hold of your details and then use them to take money out of your account – is big. And it’s rising.
Figures from Financial Fraud Action found losses from credit, debit, charge and ATM-only cards rose by £87million last year to stand at £567.5million – that’s more than half a billion pounds taken from people’s cards by criminals.
“We’re all potential targets for fraudsters,” said Matt Sanders, from Gocompare.comMoney.
But that doesn’t mean we should just accept the risks.
“It’s far easier to guard against fraud if you’re aware of the different types of scams criminals operate and know the warning signs to look out for,” Sanders added.
How they do it
Phone, computer and cards can all be used by fraudsters
There are three basic ways for thieves to get hold of your card details.
First, get hold of your actual card – either through picking a pocket, distraction thefts or more direct approaches. The wonder of the internet means that once the card is in their hands, if they use the right shopping site, they can buy quite a lot with it rather qickly – PIN or no PIN.
The second way to get your card details is to read your card then either clone it or use the details. Card skimmers – that read and record the data on your card – are most frequently used on cash machines, often accompanied with a camera or someone standing nearby to see your PIN. Cards can be copied in moments and then used to take money out or but things.
But you can also have your card details read by an unscrupulous shop worker, or even remotely using wireless technology if you have a contactless card.
Click to play
The third way to get your card details is from a device or site where they’ve been stored. So keeping your card number on your phone or tablet, or in an email or similar, means if that’s lost then fraudsters can find the information using a quick search then use the details for themselves.
Social media is another rich source of data – with full names, birthdays, addresses and even the names of parents and pets available. If you accidentally befriend a fraudster, have your privacy settings open or a criminal gets access to your or a friend’s account, that gives them a rather strong chance of being able to walk through a bank’s security questions and pretend to be you.
Failing that, some attempt to hack sites that have your data stored, potentially collecting millions of card details at once.
“Fraudsters continually seek new ways to scam unsuspecting people,” Sanders said.
“Our increasing use of technology to do everything from holding our address book and diary to online shopping and banking means that criminals are also logging-on to find new ways to steal our personal information and raid bank accounts.
“To thieves, the personal data held on a smartphone or tablet can be more valuable than the device itself.”
The 7 biggest threats
ATM cash point
There are seven main types of card fraud:
Card-not-present fraud – when card details are used to make purchases that don’t require you to physically present a card, such as online, through the post or over the telephone.
Lost and stolen cards – using a lost or stolen card to make a purchase or to withdraw cash.
Application fraud – using stolen, discarded or fake documents to open an account in someone else’s name.
Account take over – taking over another person’s card. Personal information is used to trick a card company and the fraudster can carry out transactions from the account, request changes to the account or ask for a new card to be issued.
Card not received fraud – Cards stolen in transit between the card issuer and the card holder. Especially bad where there are communal letterboxes.
Cash machine fraud – Criminals target ATMs to steal cards and card data. This varies from peering over someone’s shoulder to see their PIN, then stealing their card to using devices attached to an ATM which can copy card details and PINs or trap the card in the machine.
Counterfeit card fraud – Creating fake cards using details from the magnetic strip of a real card. These are generally used overseas in countries that don’t have Chip & PIN.
The text that cost a man £23,000 – how to beat this dangerous new scam
How to beat them
Keep it secret, keep it safe
To try and stop the threat, GoCompare provided the following advice to help you stay clear of the fraudsters:
1. Protect your cards and your personal information:
Never provide debit or credit card numbers or PINs or other personal information in response to an unsolicited email, online or telephone request. Genuine banks and card providers never request information in this way;
When you receive a new payment card – remember to sign the back;
Never let your card or card details out of sight when making a transaction;
Protect your personal information on social media, use privacy settings and don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know;Don’t use the same passwords for social media sites and online banking; Access your online financial accounts by typing the web address into your browser;
Buy a shredder to dispose of card statements and other documents containing personal or financial information you no longer need;Always PIN protect smartphones and other mobile devices.
2. Protect your PIN and keep it secret:
Choose a strong PIN. Don’t use obvious numbers, for example, the year you were born, your wedding anniversary, telephone or house number. Fraudsters can easily pick-up this kind of personal information from social media profiles and online directories.
Memorise your PIN – don’t write it down or disclose it to anyone else;
Don’t use the same PIN for all your payment cards;
When using an ATM or other card reader always shield your PIN with your hand or wallet.
3. Online safety measures:
Regularly update your computer’s firewall or antivirus software;
When shopping online, always look carefully at the site for secure transaction symbols. The web address should start ‘https’ and the page should display the secure payment ‘lock’ logo;
If possible, always shop or bank online from your personal computer;
Always log-off from a site once you’ve completed a transaction.
4. Regularly review card and bank statements:
Check statements on a regular basis and look out for unusual or unauthorised transactions;
Contact your card provider immediately if you suspect fraud.
5. Diary dates:
Note when you should be receiving a new payment card. If it doesn’t arrive when you expect it, contact the card provider as soon as possible.