The climbing cost of fraud: over £2 billion stolen from UK credit and debit cards in the last year


Nearly 1 in 10 UK adults (9%) have been defrauded via their debit or credit card in the last year, equating to 4.7 million people across the country.

This is according to a poll of 2,000 UK adults commissioned by Compare the Market, which found that nearly 5 million people have had their credit card, debit card or bank account cancelled or replaced as a result of attempted fraud in the twelve months.

The most common form that this fraud takes has been through online payments, with over a quarter (28%) experiencing a hack of either card or account. Alarmingly, 27% don’t know or can’t remember how they were hacked.

The level of cyber fraud in the UK has fallen over the past twelve months, but the amount of money stolen has increased. Over half (51%) of fraud victims have had money stolen in the last year, compared to the 5.5 million people were victims of fraud between May 2016 and May 2017. The research found that an average of £833.54 is taken with each instance of cyber-fraud, equating to £2 billion stolen from credit, debit or bank accounts in the last year alone. This figure represents a 38% increase compared to the previous year’s figure of £600 - a rise of £233 on average per theft.

An interesting new area of concern is in pre-populated debit or credit card details that many people use to make online purchases. A third (31%) of respondents’ credit or debit card details are saved using web browsing ‘auto-fill’ technology, and over half (56%) are concerned about the safety of this technology.

However, despite the high levels of fraud, few people have changed providers as a result. Over three quarters (79%) have not changed bank or credit card provider as a result of experiencing a cyberattack and are not considering changing. This is in spite of the fact that 44% had to alert their provider to suspicious activity, something most would expect their bank or credit card company to do on their behalf.

Commenting on the research, Shakila Hashmi, Head of Money at Compare the Market said:

“In the last two years, we have seen the average amount stolen from accounts soar from £475 in 2016 to £833 in 2018. This is an extremely worrying trend and suggests a significant rise in aggressive bank and credit card fraud. It is also worrying that so few people decide to take action by moving provider after an attack takes place. Whilst we do all have a responsibility to try keep our banking and card details secure, providers have a duty of care to ensure that their customers are as protected as possible. It is also vital that they jump on suspicious activity, something that our research suggests does not happen enough - according to our research, 44% of people who had been hacked had to alert their credit card provider or bank about the incident.

“However, it is reassuring to see that some behaviour is changing as a result of fraud. People are more likely to check their bank and credit card accounts regularly, and to have different passwords and pins for their various accounts, and most now won’t give out their bank details over the phone. All of these measures need to be ramped up in order for people to lessen the chance of being hacked. However, if a provider has not spotted suspicious activity or has not dealt with a fraud to the best of their ability then it is vital that people vote with their feet and move to suppliers with a better client service rating.”

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