Value of financial fraud in the UK inched up in 2016, thanks to a rise in payment card scams

 
Hayley Kirton
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The figures were driven up by frauds involving payment cards (Source: Getty)

Losses from financial fraud grew in 2016, as wrongdoers increasingly targeted card payments, figures published today show.

Financial Fraud Action UK discovered total losses from payment cards, online and telephone banking and cheque fraud rose two per cent last year to £768.8m, while there were 1,857,506 cases of financial fraud overall.

In particular, losses linked to payment cards increased to £618m, up nine per cent from £567.5m in 2015.

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However, online and telephone banking fraud slumped to £137.1m, down 19 per cent from £168.6m, while cheque fraud slid to its lowest-ever level of £13.7m, down 28 per cent.

Frauds where scammers target people's personal data, such as their passwords or card number, continued to top the list of crimes carried out. However, the research also noted a worrying trend towards online attacks like phishing emails, data breaches and malware.

However, banks and card companies also successfully prevented £1.4bn in fraud last year, the equivalent of £6.40 in every £10 of attempted fraud.

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"The payments industry can't stop all fraud on its own, so it's essential that every organisation with a role to play unites to tackle it," said Katy Worobec, director of Financial Fraud Action UK. "We are particularly working with law enforcement and government, through the joint fraud taskforce.

"It's also vital for any organisation holding personal data to ensure they have robust systems in place to prevent data breaches.

"Across the industry, and with partners, we are developing new processes to help police intervene when potential victims visit a bank branch, and we are exploring new ways to track stolen funds moved between multiple bank accounts."

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Meanwhile, John Marsden, head of ID and fraud at consumer insight company Equifax, commented:

The UK is ahead of many other countries in improving fraud defences, but is also subject to a higher number of attacks and cannot afford to be complacent. As the tactics of fraudsters continue to evolve at an alarming rate, businesses need to focus on how they can keep up.

The financial services industry in particular needs to continue working together to educate consumers and share information to help collectively tackle this activity, while also constantly improving their systems to both safeguard consumer personal data and implement appropriate steps to confirm transactions are being completed by genuine customers.

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