Fraudsters and scammers have always been on the scene, but the way in which they target their victims is beginning to change. According to the latest annual fraud figures from Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK), 2014 saw a rise in the number of scams that target people directly, as opposed to attacking the technology and systems in place to protect people's money.
Fraud losses in 2014 were still down on the record peaks witnessed in 2008, but there was a noticeable shift in the types of fraud being committed, leading to a year-on-year increase.
For example, losses at UK retailers and ATMs fell last year by 14% and 15% respectively, totalling £49.2 million and £27.3 million in the year. Cheque fraud also dropped dramatically, from £27.5 million in 2013 to £17.8 million in 2014 – a startling fall of 35% and the lowest ever recorded. This is thought to be a reflection of the tougher security measures that are now in place, such as chip & PIN and enhanced cheque fraud protection measures.
However, remote banking fraud saw a significant upturn, with losses increasing by 42%. Online banking was particularly hard-hit, with losses rising by 48% year-on-year to total £60.4 million in 2014. Telephone scams were also on the rise, growing in value by 20% to £13.9 million.
Losses on debit or credit card purchases made remotely, such as by mail, over the phone or online, rose by 10% over the year, and there was a particularly noticeable trend in the amount of fraud conducted abroad. Criminals using UK cards abroad led to losses increasing by 23% to £150.3 million in 2014, which is mainly thought to be the result of the ease of circumnavigating security measures in some overseas locations.
If you are worried about fraud, detective chief inspector Perry Stokes has some key advice: "Fraudsters are very convincing and often target people over the phone. If you receive a phone call out of the blue, never take for granted that the caller is who they say they are, even if they seem to know a lot about you. If you're asked for your card details, PIN number, or to transfer money to another account… my advice is to hand up the phone immediately and report the incident to your bank."
To keep your money safe, it is also worth bearing these measures in mind:
Finally, remember that your bank or building society will NEVER ask you for your PIN or online banking password. They will also never ask you to transfer money for safekeeping or move it to a new account, even if they claim to have the new account in your name. You will also never be asked to hand over your cards, cash or cheque books when you are allegedly the victim of fraud. By simply taking a few extra precautions, you can limit your risks and keep your money safe.
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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