Last year, a staggering £450.4 million was lost on UK-issued bank cards from frauds like identity theft, cloned cards and internet fraud.
It marks a 16% increase on overall card fraud from the previous year, but if you think this rise is simply because tricksters’ attempting to steal your money are moving with the high-tech times, think again.
According to figures recently released by Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK), the name under which the financial services industry co-ordinates crime prevention, f raud simply from cards being stolen cost us £58.9 million last year, the highest level since 2006.
FFA UK says the use of better fraud detection systems and secure card technology such as chip and pin is forcing criminals to swap tactics and go more low-tech, often with conmen posing over the phone as an official from the bank or the police.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t also be vigilant when sorting out our finances online - o nline banking fraud losses also rose by 3% year-on-year, reaching £40.9 million in 2013.
While better detection systems developed by banks and established internet retailers are helping to improve these figures, the losses are said to have been driven up by criminals’ targeting individual people and smaller firms.
Fraudsters are also increasingly turning to digital attacks to compromise card details; for example, Malware is malicious software, unknowingly downloaded onto someone’s computer, which enables criminals to steal financial information or perform unauthorised actions on your computer. It’s believed that fraudsters are then using these stolen details to steal by targeting less experienced online retailers.
So what steps can you take to avoid becoming a fraud victim?
Here’s a checklist:
* Give your handbag a spring clearout. Are you walking around with old payslips, bank or credit card statements, utility bills, long-forgotten scraps of paper with important passwords or personal information noted down or even your driving licence sitting gathering dust at the bottom of your handbag?
These items can be put together like a jigsaw by someone else to build a profile of you, which could then be used to commit identity fraud.
* If you’re moving house, make sure you have made arrangements for your mail to be re-directed, so important documents don’t end up in the wrong hands.
* Be aware. Your bank or the police will never phone, email or visit you to ask for your card Pin or to pick up your card. Never hand your card over to anyone who says they have come to “collect it”.
* On that note, make sure you are the only person who knows the Pin number for your card.
* Be suspicious of unsolicited emails which say they’re from your bank or the taxman and do not click on any links in the email.
* Only do your internet shopping on secure websites. Before keying in your card details, be sure that the locked padlock or unbroken key symbol is showing in your browser.
* Install up-to-date security software on your computer, including anti-virus. Some banks offer free security software.
* It may not be the most exciting task in the world, but make sure you regularly sift through your bank and card statements for unusual transactions. If you spot anything that looks odd, let your bank or card company know straight away.
* Shield your Pin with your free hand whenever you type it into a keypad in a shop or at a cash machine.
* Rip up or shred statements, receipts and documents that contain information about your financial affairs when you throw them away. If you go online a lot for your banking, you may even want to consider going “paperless” with your bank statements to save all the bother of tearing them up when you’ve finished with them.
* Many people still find using cheques useful. When writing a cheque, make sure you draw a line through all the unused space on the payee line and the amount line to help prevent the cheque being fraudulently altered.
The new Paym mobile payments service has been made available to 30 million people following its launch this week - making it is much easier to maintain good IOU etiquette.
The service has the potential to eventually link up every person’s current account with their mobile phone number, so paying back money to family and friends becomes simpler. People who use Paym will just need to know someone’s mobile number in order to pay them back, with no need to input all their account details.
The Payments Council, which is overseeing the service, carried out consumer research into people’s attitudes to informal ‘IOU’s. Based on its findings, it has suggested some tips to prevent uncomfortable conversations.
It says you should always agree a payback date at the time of the IOU, generally pay it back within a month and try not to be a repeat borrower.
Although the IOU is informal, the consumer research suggests you should try to keep a record of what you owe to your loved ones and repay the loan immediately if you suddenly remember a debt you’d previously forgotten.
The findings also indicate IOUs from friends and family should be kept to under £50 and ones from people you know less well should be kept to under £10.
They also suggest you shouldn’t bother asking for an IOU for under £5 back - but you should still pay this amount back if you’re the one that owes it.
Adrian Kamellard, chief executive of the Payments Council says: “Most of us think that informal IOUs between people we know have a positive effect on our relationships, but it’s also clear that we have expectations about the amount that it’s acceptable to borrow and how quickly it should be paid back.”
Financial dictionary: Direct debit: This is an instruction for your bank or building society to allow another organisation to pull payments that you have authorised from your account.
Paying bills in this way, such as those for council tax, utility and mobile phone bills, can save time and help avoid the possibility that you might forget.
The direct debit guarantee stands behind this type of payment, which means you should be refunded for any mistakes. You can cancel a direct debit simply by contacting your bank or building society.
Spending using contactless ‘tap and go’ card payments has topped £100 million in a month for the first time.
A record £109.2 million was spent on contactless cards across March, which is more than triple the £35.3 million worth of payments made using this method in March 2013, the UK Cards Association said.
Six payments are now made every second in the UK by people using contactless card technology, which allows consumers to pay for low-value items just by swiping a card on a reader.
Purchases worth up to £20 can be made in this way, although the average value of a contactless transaction is £6.46.
Nearly one in five people have stayed with a partner after romance had gone stale because they could not afford to break the relationship off, research suggests.
Some 18.9% of more than 2,000 people surveyed for DebtAdvisoryCentre.co.uk said they had remained with a partner at some stage in their lives purely because of the financial situation.
Of those who’d stayed in a relationship for longer than they wanted to, more than two-fifths (42%) said that length of time had been for a year or more.
One in seven (14%) people has used social media to complain about a company, according to research.
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of those who raised a gripe in this way said they had some form of success, according to the survey of over 2,000 people from Gocompare.com.
More than one fifth (22%) of complainers received a free gift or discount, averaging £29.60 per person — or a total of £46 million if the figures were projected across the UK.