Credit card crime is rising in Europe. Last year, Germany alone witnessed a 17% increase in losses due to this type of fraudulent activity, and in the vast majority of cases, crimes were committed online for web-based purchases.
Credit card fraud is a major problem in the UK too. Figures for 2014 witnessed a huge growth in plastic fraud compared to the previous year’s total, and the latest statistics are quite worrying.
How worried should we be?
To give you some idea of the statistics involved, the Financial Fraud Action (FFA) website has published the latest plastic fraud figures and it would seem crimes of this nature have been steadily growing, with a range of fraudulent activities taking place.
Facts, Figures and Credit or Debit Card Frauds
Common causes of card fraud include:
- Remote Purchase
- Fake Cards
- Stolen Plastic
- ID Theft
Internet, telephone or mail order fraud
In 2014 online crimes involving credit or debit card fraud rose by 10% compared to the previous year. The latest figures indicate that credit card fraud cost the country £331.5m, this was higher than the figures for 2013, which totalled an equally disappointing £301m. Many of these crimes were committed remotely by criminals who cleverly made smaller purchases in an attempt to cover their tracks.
Skimmed or cloned credit cards cost the UK millions each year too. Take the figures for 2014 for example. They clearly show that fraudulent crimes involving fake credit cards totalled £47.8m in 2014, an increase of over £4m from the previous year. Worryingly, many victims aren’t aware their cards have been cloned or skimmed, until it’s too late.
Lost and Stolen Cards
Throughout 2014 stolen or lost credit and debit cards were used in millions of fraudulent activities. Recent figure show that goods to the value of £59.7m were acquired using stolen cards last year compared to £58.9m in 2013.
ID Theft (Cards)
Card ID theft is another area that criminals target heavily. Amazingly, figures actually dropped for this type of criminal activity in 2014, with a reported cost of £29.9m, compared to £36.7m from the previous year.
This is the exception though, in general credit and debit card crime is growing in all areas and it’s advisable to protect against this type of criminal behaviour to avoid becoming the victim of a targeted attack.
7 Tips To Fight Credit Card Fraud
So how do you avoid becoming the victim of credit card fraud? One way is to protect your cards and the other is to safeguard personal information that could be used to commit fraudulent crimes.
To stay protected, take the proactive approach to crime prevention, don’t give thieves or career criminals the chance to steal your plastic, and keep your details a secret so they can’t access sensitive information, and use it against you, for ill-gotten gains.
Our suggestions to stay safe and prevent card crime include:
- Pay close attention to cards – Never let them out of your sight. Keep wallets and purses close by and take extra caution when making purchases in stores or using your cards in public.
- Read Statements – Go through monthly statements with a fine-tooth comb. Keep receipts to check your purchases, if you spot a suspicious payment that doesn’t look genuine, contact your card company straight away.
- Dispose of Statements Carefully – When you want to get rid of bank or credit card statements, shred them securely or burn them to dispose of the data. Never tear statements up then toss them in the bin. Criminals are crafty, they’ll sift through your rubbish looking for sensitive data, and this could be used to create fake accounts.
- Sign Cards Straight Away – As soon as you receive a new credit or debit card make sure you sign it straight away. The strip on the back of the card should never be left blank, populate this area with your unique moniker.
- Destroy Old Cards in a Suitable Manner – Combat credit card fraud with good housekeeping at home. Receive a new card through the post for example, and dispose of the old bit of plastic with care. A good tip is to cut the card into tiny pieces using a pair of scissors taking great care to go through the magnetic strip on the back.
- Protect Pins At All Times – Memorise the pin numbers of any cards you have in your possession, never write them down, and under no circumstances disclose this information to anybody. Your pins are private, if you receive a phone call supposedly from your bank asking for your pin number, politely hang up, and get in touch with your branch.
- Take Care At Cash Points – Be extra vigilant around cash points, check for suspicious characters hanging about and always put your cards and your money away quickly in your purse or wallet. If something looks suspicious with the card machine, and you have a feeling it’s been tampered with in some way, don’t use it, just walk away, use another machine and report this when you get the chance.
Anybody can be affected by credit card fraud. Criminals target members of the public, businesses and corporate organisations in equal measures. Fight back against fraud using our advice, and if you require training in this area, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Focus.