Protection not guaranteed for online fraudVictims are not always certain to win refunds

28 February 2007

Online fraud is on the increase but victims are not guaranteed to have their losses refunded by their bank, Which? Money warns today.

Phishing – where criminals send false emails that appear to come from banks – has increased dramatically in recent years.

In the first six months of 2006, there were 5,059 different phishing emails, up from just 312 a year earlier.

So far banks have refunded money lost by people who are tricked in this way, but several have suggested they may not in future. 

Phishing emails

Which? Money is calling for an amendment to the Banking Code to make this protection compulsory.

Which? Money also says that bank and credit card companies are playing on people’s fears about ID fraud to sell them expensive ID theft insurance – awarded a Which? ‘Don’t Buy’ status because it is highly unlikely to be good value for money.

A survey by Which? Money shows that people are taking steps to beat fraud – 91 per cent of those surveyed try to prevent people seeing their Pin at cash machines and in shops, and 91 per cent shred or rip up financial information. 

However, only 43 per cent of those surveyed never let their card out of their sight in shops and restaurants.

Online fraud

Which? Money Editor Martyn Hocking said: ‘People probably aren't aware that they're not guaranteed to have their losses refunded if they're a victim of online fraud.

‘If you receive an email that seems to be from your bank, don't reply to it - give your bank a call instead. There are other simple steps you can take too, like shredding your personal information and checking your statements.’

Which? Money provides impartial, expert information on money matters, to help people make the right choices.

It’s published monthly and is available by subscription only.  A special trial offer of 2 issues for £2 is available by calling 0800 0321 177.