‘Phishing’ scams bring big increase in online banking fraud losses

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card fraud has increased by almost 10 per cent in the past six months but it has not returned to the highs of 2008, new figures have revealed.

Data released yesterday show basic frauds, such as distraction thefts and people being tricked into giving their cards, PINs and financial passwords to criminals, have contributed to an overall increase in card fraud and online banking fraud losses. Cheque fraud losses have also increased, but phone banking losses have fallen by a fifth.

According to The UK Cards Association, total fraud losses on UK cards totalled £185m between January and June 2012 – a nine per cent increase on losses in the first half of last year.

In 2008, however, when such frauds were at their peak, a total of £304.2m was lost in the first half of 2008.

Online banking fraud losses totalled £21.6m during January to June this year – a 28 per cent increase on the 2011 half-year figure.

The Association says this has been driven by a huge increase in the number of phishing websites set up by criminals as part of a scam to trick customers into visiting these fake websites and disclosing their online banking login details. Online banking customers are also being tricked into divulging their online login details and passwords over the phone to someone they believe is from their bank but is actually a fraudster.

But phone banking fraud losses fell to £6.7m – a 21 per cent decrease – in the first six months of the year. This reduction is partly down to the fact that criminals are focusing their efforts online.

DCI David Carter, Head of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU), a special police squad which is sponsored by the banking industry said: “This increase is due to organised criminal gangs committing straightforward frauds, and our focus remains on targeting those responsible and bringing them to justice.

“And given this rise in old fashioned crimes – criminals using distraction techniques and duping people into disclosing their passwords and online banking details – we are urging everyone to be on their guard and work with us to help stop this criminal activity.

“Your bank or the police will never cold call you or email you and ask you for your full login details, cards or PINs.”