Fraud losses on UK cards and online banking fell during the first half of the year as new initiatives to combat criminal activity saw fraudsters return to low-tech scams involving cheques and socially-engineered telephone deception.
Total fraud losses on UK cards fell to £169.8 million between January and June 2011 - a nine per cent reduction compared with losses in the first half of 2010, according to figures released by the UK Cards Association.
This half-year total is the lowest for eleven years and also the third consecutive decrease, says the industry trade body, sustained by the use of more advanced fraud detection techniques and chip and PIN roll-outs in the UK and abroad.
Online banking fraud losses at £16.9 million also saw a steep decline, representing a 32% fall on the 2010 half-year figure.
However, phone banking fraud losses rose to £8.6 million (a 48% increase) during January to June 2011. As with card fraud, criminals are focusing on the straightforward crime of duping a customer into believing they are dealing with a bank or police representative and getting them to disclose their financial security details.
Cheque fraud losses also shot up, from £14 million in the first half of 2010 to £16.4 million during the same period in 2011, a 17% increase.
Commenting on the figures, DCI Paul Barnard, head of the dedicated cheque and plastic crime unit (DCPCU), observes: "There has been an increase in old fashioned scams - criminals using distraction techniques and social engineering methods to get hold of people's cards or phone banking details. We are urging everyone to be on their guard. Your bank or the police will never cold call you or email you and ask you for your login details, cards or PINs. If anyone does, they are probably a criminal, so hang up the phone or delete the email."