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Beware credit card fraudsters (as council reports £7k scam)!

Beware credit card fraudsters (as council reports £7k scam)!
Image source: Getty Images

Credit card fraud has historically been a big issue in the UK. Unfortunately, it appears credit card fraudsters are becoming even more daring in their attempts to steal money from unsuspecting citizens – and now even councils!

A few weeks ago, a Northern Ireland council was in the news after an attempted fraud of more than £7,000 on one of its cards. Credit card fraudsters apparently tried to carry out two transactions, each valued at £3,602.95.

Luckily, the bank that issued the card was able to flag the transactions in time and suspend the card before fraud could occur.

Recognise the risks

It goes without saying that a credit card can be a valuable tool in your wallet that makes life easier. The card can help pay for things when you do not have cash and can also help you build and improve your credit score.

At the same time, the incident in Northern Ireland is a cautionary tale that shows that plastic can also be a source of distress if your details fall into the wrong hands.

That’s why it’s a great idea to be aware of what credit card fraud is and how to avoid getting your card stolen by credit card fraudsters.

Credit card fraud: the facts

Generally, credit card fraud is any kind of fraud or theft involving a credit card. A credit card fraudster can use your card or your account to make unauthorised purchases. This can happen in two ways.

  • You lose your credit card or someone steals it. Fraudsters can use it to make purchases or other transactions online or in person.
  • Your credit card details are accessed through phishing or card skimming. Fraudsters can use them to make unauthorised transactions without the physical card.

In the UK, credit card fraud is one of the most rampant types of fraud. For example, according to UK Finance, total fraud losses on UK-issued cards were £671.4 million in 2018. This was a 19% increase from the previous year’s losses of £565.4 million.

How to avoid getting your credit card stolen

Here are some useful steps you can take to prevent fraudsters accessing your credit card details.

  • Shred old receipts and statements containing your account number when you do not need them any longer.
  • Only use secure websites and make online purchases from reputable companies that you know. (in the council’s case, it is suspected that a website the council had completed a transaction on a few weeks earlier had been compromised).
  • Do not give your personal information to anyone contacting you claiming to be from your bank or credit card company.
  • Have your mail delivered to a Post Office box or a secure mailbox only.
  • Keep your credit card in sights when making any purchases or payments.
  • Ensure that your computer and mobile phone software is up to date and install antivirus software if possible.
  • Do not use public Wi-Fi for online transactions (use your private home network instead).

What to do if your card is used fraudulently

Unfortunately, while you can take precautions against the theft of your card or its details, you might not be able to completely immunise yourself from becoming a victim of credit card fraudsters.

Luckily, should fraudsters use your card fraudulently, you have the protection of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This gives you the right to claim back any money lost through fraud as long as you were not behaving negligently.

If you discover fraudulent charges on your card, call your credit card company or bank immediately and ask them to cancel the card. This can help stop further fraud on your card. The card issuer might also reimburse any money lost.

It is a good idea to report the fraud to the police through Action Fraud. They can investigate your case and help protect others from becoming victims of credit card fraud.

Final word

Having your credit card or your credit card account details stolen by fraudsters can be distressing. Luckily, there are a number of ways to reduce the risk of your card details ending up in the hands of fraudsters.

For more information on identity theft and how to protect yourself, check out our articles on how to check if you are a victim of identity theft and steps you can take to prevent credit card fraud in the UK.

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