Almost five million people had money stolen from their bank or credit card account last year, at a cost of around £840 each, according to shocking new figures.
More than £2bn has been snatched from about one in 10 British adults, new data from Compare the Market has revealed, and online payments are the weakest link.
More than a quarter of frauds took place online last year and 27 per cent of victims don’t know or remember how they were hacked.
The level of cyber fraud in the UK has fallen over the past 12 months, but the amount of money stolen has increased.
More than half of fraud victims have had money stolen in the last year, compared with the 5.5 million people who were victims of fraud between May 2016 and May 2017.
Criminal strategies are rapidly evolving as social media and software technology do.
The figures come after 95 arrests were made across Europe earlier this summer following a joint law enforcement operation targeting online fraudsters. The suspects arrested during the operation are believed to be responsible for more than 20,000 fraudulent transactions using compromised credit cards, with an estimated value exceeding £7m.
“Fraudsters are increasingly targeting people through social media so it’s vital that everyone follows the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and keeps their details safe,” warns Detective Chief Inspector Glyn Whittick, head of the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, which led the UK side of the operation. “People should also remember when shopping online that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Here in the UK, concerns are growing among consumers over pre-populated debit or credit card details that many people use to make online purchases. A third of consumers’ credit or debit card details are saved using web browsing “auto-fill” technology, and more than half are concerned about the safety of this technology.
“In the last two years, we have seen the average amount stolen from accounts soar from £475 in 2016 to £833 in 2018. This is an extremely worrying trend and suggests a significant rise in aggressive bank and credit card fraud,” says Shakila Hashmi, head of money at Compare the market.
“It is also worrying that so few people decide to take action by moving provider after an attack takes place. Whilst we do all have a responsibility to try keep our banking and card details secure, providers have a duty of care to ensure that their customers are as protected as possible.
“It is also vital that they jump on suspicious activity, something that our research suggests does not happen enough. According to our research, 44 per cent of people who had been hacked had to alert their credit card provider or bank about the incident.”
However, there is evidence that Britons are beginning to change their behaviours as a result of worrying and growing levels of fraud.
Most consumers are now more likely to check their bank and credit card accounts regularly, and to have different passwords and pins for their various accounts, and most now won’t give out their bank details over the phone.
But campaigners warn anyone can be a victim of fraud and nobody should relax no matter how clued up they believe they are.
“All of these measures need to be ramped up in order for people to lessen the chance of being hacked,” adds Hashmi.
“However, if a provider has not spotted suspicious activity or has not dealt with a fraud to the best of their ability then it is vital that people vote with their feet and move to suppliers with a better client service rating.”
How not to be a victim of fraud
1. Keep your contactless card safe and in sight, this will help guard against misuse.
2. Make sure the PIN protecting your card, smartphone or other payment device is strong and secure and, never use the same PIN to unlock your smartphone and to verify contactless payments.
3. Regularly check the transactions on your bank statements – this will help you to spot any fraudulent activity on your account, contactless or otherwise. Checking your statements will also help you keep track of your spending.