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One step forward and two steps back for Fraud in the UK

Disappointingly, judging from the recent latest round of fraud statistics,[1] it looks like the UK is back on the naughty step in terms of countries with the highest fraud losses. New figures released by Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) show that levels of card and online banking fraud rose during 2013, with fraud losses on UK cards totalling £450.4 million in 2013, a 16 per cent rise on the total in 2012. After briefly being overtaken by France just a few months ago, figures show the UK has reclaimed its dubious crown for having the worst card fraud rates on the continent[2]. Yet statistics can sometimes be misleading and it probably isn’t fair to make direct comparisons between the UK and their nearest and dearest continental neighbours.

Transparency of such data is great, and will help to educate the industry about where we are, without being categorical about it. However, there must be a word of caution about how much we say with the criminal community in mind and how they might use this information.

Clearly fraudsters are continuing to turn the screw when it comes to Card-Not-Present (CNP) fraud (up 22%) in the UK. What is now being labelled as v-ishing, in reality is actually another variation on good old social engineering techniques used by the criminal on the vulnerable or unsuspecting general public, sometimes when they expect it least – when they are on holiday.

The latest insidious technique is by impersonating bank and law enforcement officials by calling genuine customers for PIN numbers and then collecting cards by courier.

The latest figures show the well-publicised customer education messages around deception don’t seem to be paying off, or do not appear to be resonating with the wider general public.   Nor does the need for anti-virus protection. A scary thought as we continue to move towards mobile payments. It begs the question about how many customers are actually making payments using handsets or without any anti-virus technology on their mobile phone?

Yet it’s not all doom and gloom. There is some good news in all the detail here. Cheque fraud volumes continue to fall. It will be interesting to see how much the new HM Treasury proposal to allow for the scanning and exchange of cheques images, rather than paper, will have on perpetuating this declining fraud trend in the future. 


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