Shielding your PIN as you get cash out the ATM is a banking skill we've all been practising for years, but as technology improves so do the skills of fraudsters, and we need to be aware to keep one step ahead of them.
Card and online banking fraud has seen a frightening rise over the past year totalling £450.4 million in 2013, showing a 16% rise on a year before, according to The UK Cards Association.
Banks and larger retailers are constantly trying to improve fraud detection and prevention systems and it is clear this is having a positive effect with overall fraud losses on cards down 26% since its peak in 2008. But as criminals come up against systems such as Chip & Pin and real-time fraud screening, it seems they are also adapting with the times and increasingly appear to be targeting individual consumers and smaller businesses.
Distraction theft in shops and bars is a common way for criminals to get hold of credit or debit cards, as is "shoulder surfing" at ATMs to get a glimpse of people's personal details. Losses due to fraud on lost or stolen cards have increased by 7% since last year and currently stand at a staggering £58.9 million.
Fraudsters also use a lot of tricking and duping tactics to fool vulnerable people into handing over personal details. Often posing to be someone else, whether turning up at your door or through a method called "vishing" where criminals trick consumers into parting with personal details over the telephone, deception is a major form of fraud. Vishing was the driver for a 14% rise in card ID theft last year, showing a rise of £36.7 million.
Remote card fraud, that of online, telephone and mail order, increased by 22% last year to £301.1 million, with digital hacking through malware – people unknowingly downloading software enabling hackers to get their hands on details from your computer – a common problem.
Online and telephone banking is another area exploited by criminals, and banks and building societies are always trying to come up with sophisticated security systems to beat the fraudsters. However, it seems the criminals are still getting the better deal when it comes to online banking as this kind of fraud increased by 3% last year to £40.9 million with business accounts often being targeted for higher returns. Happily telephone banking fraud has actually fallen by 8% to £11.6 million thanks to tighter processes by banks to confirm the customer's identity.
Cheque fraud also saw a decrease of 22% last year to £27.5 million due to improved fraud detection methods, including the digital analysis of cheques.
Detective Chief Inspector Perry Stokes, head of the dedicated cheque and plastic crime unit, said: "Whether in the real world or online, these latest fraud figures show just how important it is for consumers and businesses to know how to protect themselves against fraud. Always make sure you have the latest security software installed on your computer, so you can safely shop and bank online.
"Fraudsters can be extremely persuasive – do not be fooled. Your bank or the police will never call, visit or email you to request your PIN, collect your bank card, or ask you to transfer money to another account. Anyone attempting to do so is a fraudster."
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