Debit and credit card fraud hits 11-year low


Fraud losses on UK debit and credit cards fell to £341 million in 2011, the lowest level in 11 years, according to the UK Cards Association. Why the drop? Chip-and-PIN technology, online protection initiatives and increased consumer awareness all seem to have played a role in combating fraud.

Card fraud falls by 7%
The latest figures show that fraud losses on UK cards fell by 7% last year, from £365.4 million in 2010 to £341 million in 2011. Over the past three years, card fraud has taken a 45% tumble, bringing it to the lowest it's been since

According to the UK Cards Association, a number of factors have contributed to the improving fraud landscape. For one thing, a growing number of UK cards now support chip-and-PIN technology. Unlike the magnetic stripes of old, chip-and-PIN cards are difficult to forge and "skim" data from. In addition, many online retailers have signed up for online protection initiatives, such as MasterCard SecureCode and Verified by Visa, which add an additional layer of security when customers make credit card transactions via the internet. Banks, meanwhile, are using increasingly sophisticated fraud detection systems.

Customers themselves are also doing their part to reduce card fraud. Thanks to successful consumer education campaigns, they're more aware of threats, are being more careful with their data and are keeping the anti-virus software on their computers up-to-date.

Don't get complacent
The fall in fraud indicates that the industry's endeavours are "packing a punch," said Melanie Johnson, chair of the UK Cards Association, in a statement. She also noted that those who become innocent victims of credit card fraud benefit from "excellent" fraud protection that they would not get if they had been using cash.

Despite the fall in certain types of fraud, consumers still have plenty to be wary of, according to DCI Paul Barnard, head of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit. That's because advances in fraud-fighting technology have brought about a return to more "simplistic" crimes, such as telephone banking fraud and cheque 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," Barnard said in a news release. "Our appeal to the public is to 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 nor the police will ever ask you for these."

See related: UK targeted by bank-robbing malware; How to protect yourself from charity fraud


Published: 13 March 2012