Credit card fraud: How to avoid falling victim

One in ten of us have been hit by credit or debit card fraud in the past year at a total cost of more than £2 billion, recent research suggests.

With everything from banking to bus timetables moving online, the opportunity for cyber criminals to obtain and exploit sensitive information has never been greater, and it seems that plenty of us have been affected in some way or another.

Of the 2,000 UK adults surveyed by CompareTheMarket in August, a tenth of them had been a victim of a cyber attack on their credit or debit card in the last 12 months, with an estimated 4.5 million cards cancelled as a result of online fraud.

Happy hackers

The data suggests that these hackers are pretty good at pinching away funds too. Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of hacking attempts successfully removed money from accounts. The amount of cash stolen averaged £475, which rings in at £2.1 billion nationally.

Most of those affected were hit by card fraud when making an online payment (31 per cent), while one in ten had their card duplicated at a hole-in-the-wall cash machine.

The rise of contactless payment machines may have sped up our time at the tills but there’s reason to suspect that they’re not all that convenient or secure, with eight per cent having their card hacked when paying with their contactless card.

Steps you can take

So, what can you do to ensure you don’t fall into the same traps?

Well, it’s a well-known and fairly obvious step but if you have online banking, use a unique log-in and password.

If that last sentence triggered a groan and a roll of the eyes, I’m with you. Who wants to remember a different password for each account?

As such, one in four of us use the same PIN and password for all cards and online accounts, and even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been suckered by the lazy tactic.

When his LinkedIn password was leaked amongst 117 million others, some chancer tried it on a few other social networks and gained access to his Twitter and Pinterest accounts before leaving their mark.

Given that Zuckerberg hadn’t tweeted for five years, it wasn’t as lucrative or potentially damaging as breaking into the billionaire’s online bank account. Rather, it’s another example of how people only strengthen their online security after they’ve been stung.

Which is exactly what CompareTheMarket’s survey affirmed.


Two in five hacking victims surveyed by the price comparison website said they were thinking about changing their bank or credit card provider, or had done it already.

But without a change in behaviour from the account holder themselves, it’ll probably only be a matter of time before it happens again.

Keeping a close eye on outgoings and regularly checking statements is an effective way of avoiding further fraud. Check your bank statements for any unusual activity, as criminals often take small but regular amounts which are harder to spot than chunky one-off sums.

Again, it may be obvious, but never give out bank details over the phone or email. No legitimate bank would request them in the first place, so if you sense any attempt to trick you into disclosing them then hang up or report the email.

CompareTheMarket found that 29 per cent of bank fraud victims had gone back to paying for items with cash more often, which could be viewed as the baddies winning, and makes us a little sad, really.

“Most of the transactions we make now are digital,” said Jody Baker, CompareTheMarket’s head of money, adding that more than one in four people now carry less than £10 in cash.

“With so many of us shopping and banking on the internet, combined with a rise in contactless payments, it is more important than ever to be vigilant when managing your money.”

By Amy White

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