Stolen card fraud 'at new high'
Consumers are being warned not to be duped by card scams as figures showed that fraud due to stolen cards has risen to its highest levels since 2006.
Some £58.9 million was lost due to lost or stolen plastic last year, marking a 7% increase on the previous year and the highest figure since 2006, according to Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK), the name under which the financial services industry co-ordinates crime prevention.
In total, £450.4 million was lost on UK-issued cards last year due to frauds such as identity theft, cloned cards and internet fraud, marking a 16% increase on the previous year, but still well below a peak reached in 2008.
Online banking fraud losses rose by 3% year-on-year to reach £40.9 million in 2013.
FFA UK said that while better fraud detection systems developed by banks and established internet retailers are having a positive impact on the figures, the losses have been driven up by criminals' targeting of individual consumers and smaller firms.
Better security features such as chip-and-pin have forced criminals to change tactics, by focusing more on simply tricking people into handing over their card details. Sometimes this is done by posing over the phone as an official from the bank or the police.
The industry wants to highlight to consumers that the bank and police will never phone or email them to ask for their PIN or full online banking codes, or visit them at home to collect their bank card.
Digital attacks are also on the rise in order to compromise card details. Malware is malicious software, which is unknowingly downloaded onto someone's computer, enabling criminals to steal financial information or perform unauthorised actions on the device.
It is believed that fraudsters are using these stolen details to steal by targeting less experienced online retailers.
Experts and the police are urging people and businesses to install security software, which is often freely available from the consumer's own bank.
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."