Credit card fraud

As credit card security gets tougher, fraudsters get smarter. Today, more than half of all fraud in the UK is cyber-related, so it’s important to be vigilant when protecting your money and your identity against credit card fraud.

As credit card security gets tougher, fraudsters get smarter. Today, more than half of all fraud in the UK is cyber-related, so it’s important to be vigilant when protecting your money and your identity against credit card fraud.

Anelda Knoesen
From the Money team
minute read
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Posted 9 JANUARY 2020

What is credit card fraud?

Credit card fraud is a wide-ranging term for theft of an account holder’s card details. These details are then used to fraudulently make a payment or are sold on to another party. Anyone with a credit card can fall victim to credit card fraud, so it’s important to understand how to spot that your card has been used fraudulently and what to do.

How do I know I’ve been a victim of credit card fraud?

The following could suggest that you’ve been a victim of credit card fraud:

  • Your card has been rejected when you try to make a payment
  • You spot unusual activity on your credit card statement
  • Your provider contacts you to notify you that you’ve exceeded your credit limit, but not as a result of your own spending. Be aware that exceeding your limit can also impact your credit score, so it is crucial that you report it to your provider straight away.

As a general rule,  a bank will never ask you for your PIN, your online banking passwords, or ask you to send any of your personal or banking information by email or text.  Remember, if it feels wrong – it probably is.

How do I report credit card fraud?

If you notice any unusual activity on your credit card statement or if you’ve had your card stolen and want to report fraudulent activity, you need to  contact your bank or card issuer. Contact numbers are generally published on the card provider’s website or can find them on your credit card statement.

The card provider will cancel the card to prevent any further use. They’ll also advise you what to do next and re-issue you with a new card. You should also report it to the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre  Action Fraud.

As distressing as credit card fraud is, you’re likely to be protected by your card provider. As long as you weren’t involved in the fraud and you didn’t act negligently, then you should get a full refund. One example of negligence would be if  you posted a photo of your new credit card on social media along with the card numbers.

What are the main types of credit card fraud?

Stolen or lost card: If you’ve lost your card or it’s been stolen, and it ends up in the hands of fraudsters, they can use it to make payments. Contact your provider and ask them to cancel you card as soon as you realise it’s missing.

Remote purchase fraud: This is where thieves steal your information and use your card details to buy items. This type of fraud accounts for the majority of credit card fraud. 

Phishing:  This is a type of scam where you’re sent an email or called to ask for personal information, such as your card details or security password or answers. It’s often sent by someone pretending to be from your bank and is done under a valid-sounding but invented reason, for example, a ‘customer survey’, or to ‘protect our customers against unusual activity on their account’.

You may also be asked to click on links to a website, from which viruses and other computer malicious software can be placed on your computer and used to steal your person details – this can result in identity theft.  

Card skimming: Your card is passed through a machine that copies the card details.  Skimming machines are small and portable, and can be used in restaurants or attached to cash machines.

Contactless card fraud: While some people still regard contactless payments with suspicion, contactless card fraud is relatively low. That’s because the technology limits the value of purchases, and the number of times the card can be used before a PIN is required. However, you should  always be vigilant when using your card and keep a close eye on bank statements and your credit report, in case of any unusual activity.

How to protect yourself against credit card fraud 

You can minimise your chances of becoming a victim of credit card fraud by taking steps to stay safe and secure online. Here are some of Ionut Ionescu's (expert in  data security at Compare the Market):

  • Do not share your credit card details unless it is necessary.
  • Set up automatic alerts on your credit card and other accounts. Most providers offer a variety of combinations, for example: any purchase for a good or service that you have not made before or with a provider from a different country, any purchase over a certain amount, etc.
  • Avoid disclosing sensitive information using public or open Wi-Fi networks (like in coffee shops, airports, pubs, etc).
  • If you’re entering sensitive (e.g. credit card) information, then look for web addresses that start  with ‘https://’ – the ‘s’ should indicate that your dialogue with the web site in question would be encrypted and your personal information and/or card details would not be sent in the clear over the internet.

Compare credit cards

Once you know how to use a credit card sensibly and securely, they can be great tools for spreading the cost of items. Compare deals from a range of credit card providers to find one that suits your needs.

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