Scammers turn to cheque and phone banking fraudCheque and phone banking fraud on the increase

05 October 2011

Scams and fraud

Always be on your guard to help protect yourself from scams

Fraud losses on UK cards have fallen year-on-year, according to industry figures released today. However, both cheque fraud and fraud related to phone banking have increased, with criminals reverting to more basic scamming techniques.

Card fraud levels drop

The research - by Financial Fraud Action UK - reveals that total fraud losses on UK cards fell by 9% between the first half of 2010 and the same period in 2011. UK card fraud is now at its lowest level in 11 years, with a 36% drop in card counterfeiting between 2010 and 2011. However the figures also reveal cheque and phone fraud have increased substantially. 

Which? fraud expert Melanie Green said: 'Although it's encouraging to see that online banking losses continue to fall, it's worrying that phone banking fraud losses are on the rise. It's important to remain vigilant and remember never to disclose your pin, passwords or phone login details to anyone.

If you realise that you may have disclosed your security details, contact your bank immediately. The most you should have to pay if money is taken from your account without your authority is £50. But if the bank can prove you have been grossly negligent you may be liable for the whole amount.'

Phone banking and cheque fraud on the increase

However, as 'high tech' fraud becomes more difficult to commit, it seems that criminals are finding easier, less well-protected targets. While levels of online banking fraud fell by 32% between 2010 and 2011, phone banking fraud losses actually rose by 48% during the same period. In addition, cheque fraud losses rose by 17% between 2010 and 2011, and came to £16.4 million in the first half of this year.

Last month, a Which? investigation uncovered widely varying levels of online security among UK banks. Nationwide was found to have the best website on test, with good login security and logout performance and an overall score of 69%.

At the other end of the scale, Norwich & Peterborough Building Society had the weakest security, and scored just 35%. It is one of only four brands that don't use a token (such as a card reader) of any type, and login security was poor.

How to protect yourself

To reduce your chances of being a victim of card, bank or cheque fraud, make sure you take the following steps:

  • Make sure you're the only person who knows your PIN. Your bank or the police will never phone or e-mail you to ask for it.
  • Never hand your card over to someone claiming to be collecting it on behalf of your bank. Banks never operate in this way.
  • When typing in your PIN at an ATM or shop keypad, always shield it with your free hand.
  • Only shop online on secure websites. Look for the locked padlock or unbroken key symbol in your browser before entering any card details.
  • Shred bank statements, receipts and other documents containing your financial details before you throw them away.
  • Never accept a cheque from someone unless you know and trust them - particularly if that cheque is for a high value.
  • When writing a cheque yourself, draw a line through all unused space on the payee line and the amount line. This will help prevent the cheque being fraudulently altered.
  • Make sure you have up-to-date anti-virus software installed on your computer.