Fraudsters are going on a £1.5million a day spending spree – using other people’s plastic cards.
These new fraud figures are published just as Financial Fraud Action UK steps up its Take Five campaign to help shoppers and householders beat the scourge.
The campaign encourages everyone to be suspicious of uninvited approaches and to keep personal financial details to themselves – taking time to think before they act on any requests.
The new strand, ‘My Money, My info? I don’t think so’ is designed to crank up shopper scepticism.
Out to get you: Fraudsters are going on a £1.5m a day spending spree – using other people’s plastic cards
Card fraud accounted for 7.5p in every £100 of plastic spending in the first half of this year.
Although an improvement on the same period last year, fraud experts warn the levels are still too high.
As spending on plastic increases, criminals are expected to intensify efforts to steal cards and hustle details and PINs from cardholders by phone or online.
Tony Blake, of the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, says: ‘The message is to stop and think before giving away any information.’
John Cannon, security expert at credit reference agency Noddle, says: ‘Consumers need to take preventative action. We found that a worrying number of people still write their PIN on the card or store it in their phone.’
There are numerous ways in which fraudsters will try to steal your hard earned cash.
Card fraud accounted for 7.5p in every £100 of plastic spending in the first half of this year
Card not present
A common card con is to make a payment remotely using a cardholder’s details – rather than using a physical card.
With shopping by mail, phone and online escalating, it has become easier to commit this type of fraud. Fraudsters grab details in a number of ways, including buying them from other crooks or stealing them themselves.
Cannon says: ‘You may pay for something over the phone, such as a takeaway, where your card details including your all-important three- digit security code are taken down.
‘These might then be stolen. Avoid purchasing this way by using an online service to book a takeaway or ask to pay by cash or card upon delivery.’
I RUMBLED FRAUDSTER BEFORE HE COULD WALK OFF WITH GOODS
Scam: Sally Marlow came home to mystery packages
Sally Marlow was left baffled when she had her debit card declined at a supermarket.
When she got home she discovered why the transaction had been stopped.
Waiting for her at home in Central London were three packages – from designer retailer End Clothing, Saks Fifth Avenue and Matches Fashion.
The first contained a £370 hoodie and the other two identical backpacks priced at £450 each.
All had been paid for on her card.
Sally, 51, says: ‘I never buy designer clothes so it was particularly odd. I phoned my bank First Direct to let them know a fraudster was obviously at work – and it organised to refund the payments.’
She says: ‘I emailed Matches and End Clothing to arrange for the items to be picked up.’
A day or so later, Sally took a call from someone claiming to be from Matches’ returns department, wanting to organise a courier. Sally says: ‘I gave him my address and I thought it was sorted.’
A short while later another call came through from Saks Fifth Avenue, asking to arrange the return of the backpack.
She says: ‘The voice sounded similar and I was suspicious because I had not had time to contact the retailer. A light bulb went on in my head and I told the caller I knew what he was up to and he hung up.’
Sally’s card details and phone number had been stolen by the fraudster. He had then ordered the goods (giving a fake email address) in the hope of collecting them posing as a courier picking up the returns.
Had Sally not scuppered his plan he would have walked off with goods worth at least £1,270.
The shopping binge had also included £850 worth of shoes and clothing from JD Sports, which were never delivered.
Devices can be attached to cash machines that copy card details and collect PINs.
A popular method is the ‘Lebanese loop’ – a piece of tape inserted into a cash machine that catches the real card.
You think it has been swallowed but a fraudster has watched you tap in your PIN and then retrieves the card when you have gone.
Using stolen ID, a scammer applies for a card in your name. The card is sent to your home but the fraudster intercepts it, either through collusion with a postal worker or by hanging around outside your home or in a communal space such as student accommodation.
This involves tricking a victim into divulging personal details. It is achieved using phishing emails that fool the receiver into entering card details on a fraudulent website.
Another version is ‘vishing’ where scammers use convincing patter to persuade victims to reveal key financial details over the phone.
Crooks do initial homework by scouring social networks such as Facebook for plausible information to hook you in.
Cannon says: ‘If you liked a particular charity, they might pose as someone signing you up as a donor.’
This involves someone impersonating a bank official or a police officer. They phone up and spin a line that a suspicious payment has been made on your card and that the problem must be resolved.
They suggest you phone the bank using the genuine number on the back of your card.
But the scammer keeps the phone line open so you are connected back to the crook or an accomplice who then asks for your PIN.
A courier arrives at your home later to pick up the ‘compromised’ card.
Fraudsters collect money – and personal information – by setting up their own bogus wi-fi service.
One method is to set up outside a hotel and create a fake wi-fi using the hotel name.
Residents sign in, pay a fee and provide a string of useful data for fraudsters including their date of birth, card details and email address. A variation is to set up a fake website selling goods that do not exist.
Old-fashioned card theft is also a rich hunting ground. The rise in contactless spending where no PIN is required makes it easy for small-time crooks to shop undetected.
This accounts for about 1 per cent of total card fraud. Losses are usually limited as the maximum transaction is £30 and after a handful of purchases in one day, a PIN will be demanded.
The dark web
Crooks often purchase personal information from marketplaces on the ‘Dark Web’, parts of the internet where the hosts are hidden.
Cannon says: ‘Once the crooks have enough data they can apply for a card in your name.’
HOW TO SAFEGUARD AGAINST FRAUD
- Tighten your social media privacy controls – and encourage linked friends to do the same.
- Keep security software up to date on gadgets to protect against ‘malware’ programs.
- Protect your PIN – the bank or police will never request it over the phone.
- Get alerts of suspicious activity on your accounts. Such services are provided by credit checking agencies such as Noddle and Experian. These companies can find whether your data is on the Dark Web. If your card details appear there, cancel the card and take out a new one.
- Always check a website is secure. Look for a padlock symbol in the browser. The web address should begin with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for secure.
- Use strong passwords – perhaps made up of the first letters of words in a sentence.
- Inform your bank as soon as you suspect fraud. You should be protected either by the Consumer Credit Act Section 75 or a bank’s chargeback scheme.