Credit card fraud on the slide in 2009


UK credit card fraud on the declineFalling prey to fraudsters is always a major concern for credit card users, especially as the techniques employed by such criminals are becoming increasingly advanced. However, providers are equally determined to ensure that their customers are not targeted and a new report has found that their methods made a significant impact in 2009.

Tackling the fraudsters
The UK Cards Association revealed this week that total fraud-related losses on UK debit and credit cards reached £440m in 2009, which was a decline of 28% or £170m from the previous year's figure. The decrease was the first recorded by the body since 2006 and is being attributed to a range of industry initiatives. The ongoing development of chip and pin has proved effective, while fraud detection tools devised by banks and retailers are becoming more sophisticated. In addition, the work of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit and the banking-sponsored special police unit have contributed to the improvement.

Keeping customers' interests "centre-stage"
The research also revealed that fraud relating to lost and stolen cards is now at its lowest level for two decades, having fallen by 58% between 2004 and 2009. Furthermore, the number of counterfeit card fraud losses has reached a 10-year low; retailers have seen their losses slashed by 67% since 2004 and mail non-receipt fraud has declined by 91% during the same period.

"The cards industry sees fighting fraud as a key part of keeping its customers' interests centre-stage," said Melanie Johnson, chair of the UK Cards Association.

"We are committed to a wide range of measures to ensure customers feel confident, safe and secure when they use their credit and debit cards -- whether in a shop, abroad, online, at a cash machine or anywhere else."

Proceeding with caution
However, debit and credit card customers who use online banking should also be aware that this type of fraud is on the rise, with losses increasing by 14% to £59.7m in 2009. The main reason for this development is that hackers are becoming more adept at deploying malware to target vulnerable PCs. The UK Cards Association noted that individuals are the main focus of thieves' attentions, as banks' computer systems tend to be much harder to infiltrate.

As a result, Britons should aim to build on the improvement in other areas of credit card fraud by ensuring they do not give cyber criminals an easy ride. Installing effective anti-virus software and updating it regularly is essential, while choosing complex passwords and keeping them private is also highly recommended to avoid being left out of pocket.

Published: 12 March 2010