Card fraud falls to its lowest level for 11 years

Credit card Card fraud losses have fallen by nearly half since their peak in 2008

The amount of money lost due to fraud on credit and debit cards fell last year by 7% to £341m - its lowest level for 11 years.

The drop from 2010 was mainly due to a 41% fall in fraudsters impersonating people to obtain or use credit cards.

There was also a 24% fall in the amount of fraud from cards being faked.

The UK Cards Association said it was the third year in a row that card fraud had fallen, with a drop of 44% since losses peaked in 2008.

It brings card fraud to its lowest level since 2000 when £317m was lost through fraud.

The association credited the improvement to the increased use of anti-fraud measures.

Among them were online card verification software, such as Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode, and the increased use of chip-and-pin technology abroad.

Melanie Johnson, chair of the UK Cards Association, said: "This is... clear proof that our endeavours to fight fraud are packing a punch."

"Customers have also played their part in driving down losses by taking heed of advice about looking after their personal and financial details," she added.

Losses falling

Card fraud rose during the past decade to reach its peak, in 2008, of £610m.

Card security tips

  • Shield entry of a Pin number at a cash machine with a free hand
  • Regularly update a computer's anti-virus software
  • Be wary of unsolicited e-mails and telephone calls

Although the adoption of chip-and-pin technology, largely replacing signatures, had helped to rein in fraud in the UK, there was a revival in the fraudulent use of cards abroad.

However, this has now dropped as well, with fraud abroad falling by a further 15% last year to £80m.

That was its lowest level in 12 years, and nearly two-thirds down from the peak of foreign card fraud in 2008, when it stood at £230m.

Overall, the most common losses last year were due to cards being improperly used to order items over the phone, by post or over the internet - so-called "card not present" fraud.

This accounted for £221m - nearly two-thirds of all card fraud losses.

Meanwhile counterfeit card fraud, once the second-largest category of loss, has slumped in the past five years, down by three-quarters since 2007.

The biggest areas of card fraud loss in 2011 were:

  • Cards not present: £221m
  • Lost or stolen cards: £50m
  • Counterfeit cards: £36m
  • Card ID theft: £23m
  • Cards stolen in the post: £11m

DCI Paul Barnard, who leads the police cheque and plastic crime unit, said with more sophisticated anti-fraud technology now in use, criminals had returned to simpler forms of fraud.

"Many scams involve customers being conned into handing over their cards and Pins, or their telephone banking security details by someone calling, pretending to be their bank or police," he pointed out.

"Be wary of any unsolicited phone calls or emails - never hand over your card and Pin or bank security details in full as neither your bank or the police will ever ask you for these."

Meanwhile, fraud losses against online banking accounts fell by 24% last year to £35m, while fraud losses involving telephone banking rose by 32% to £17m.

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