Almost £5 billion is feared to have been stolen from people in Britain in credit card fraud, with one in five people targeted by scammers, according to research.
Amid a growth in the number of people buying goods and services online, a consumer comparison website has suggested that people are more likely to be hacked by cyber thieves as a result.
A survey suggested that 21 per cent of people — about 11 million adults nationwide — had to replace or cancel their credit card as a result of attempted fraud over the past year. Victims lost an average of £846 each, meaning that nationally £4.7 billion is thought to have been stolen.
Four per cent of respondents to the survey of 2,100 people said
that their card had been physically stolen.
The majority of card fraud theft happened as people were making online payments. A smaller number said that their account was compromised by a card skimmer, in which fraudsters capture credit card information through small devices in seemingly safe transactions such as at an ATM or petrol station.
The figures, by comparethemarket.com, broadly tally with the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which said that 17 per cent of people were victims of bank or credit card fraud in the year to March 2018.
Credit card fraud is defined as a theft or fraud involving a credit card that enables a thief to buy goods without paying or to steal money from a credit account.
In contrast, buying goods online using another person’s details, having stolen their card number and details from online databases or through email scams, is known as “card not present” fraud.
Consumers who are targeted in this way would not ordinarily be liable for unauthorised payments on the card, if it is shown to have been used in fraudulent activity by a thief, as the individual would be covered under the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
Those whose cards are lost or stolen are usually liable for the first £50. People who are deemed to have lost money through fraud because of a failure to pay due care and attention to the security of their card and its details are also unlikely to get all of their money back.
In April Jeremy Fleming, the director of GCHQ, the intelligence agency, disclosed how spies were sharing real-time cybersecurity information with banks and other corporations in an attempt to tackle credit card fraud. Government surveillance systems have been deployed to detect stolen credit card details posted for sale on the dark web, amid fears that organised criminal gangs are often the drivers of such thefts. GCHQ says that it shares intelligence with banks “to enable them to alert customers to threats”.
The survey said, however, that in more than a third of cases people who have had their credit cards compromised did not know or were unable to remember how the hacking attack had occurred.
John Crossley, director of money at comparethemarket.com, said: “Two of the busiest shopping days in the calendar year are fast approaching, so it is more important than ever that people remain cyber-savvy.
“Latest figures show that online sales now represent 18 per cent of total UK retail sales, so around Black Friday and Cyber Monday [on December 2] customers should be extra vigilant, especially as our research suggests that fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated online.
“It’s important not to make yourself vulnerable to hackers. Ensuring that you have separate passwords and pins for different accounts or cards, and are familiar with some of the tricks that fraudsters use, will help to keep your money secure.”