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Think tank names the UK as the ‘card fraud capital’ of Europe

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More and more UK households have been reporting cases of credit card fraud in recent years. The average victim loses roughly £8,775, making the UK the most problematic European country in card fraud. Possession of a physical credit card is no longer needed to commit these crimes, as criminals have found more sophisticated ways to glean credit card information by scamming it from unwitting individuals.

How credit card fraud happens

Over the years, there have been an increasing number of ways people have been able to steal card information. As more advanced technology rose to prominence, phishing scams have become a popular method for cyber criminals to obtain card details for fraudulent use. E-mails, phone calls, texts, and even social media messages were used to get people to reveal passwords, banking information, PINs, and other sensitive data.

Scammers typically pose as a victim’s relative or friend, the organisation they belong to, or the bank they put their money in, and ask the person to reveal their card numbers or online banking passwords for an emergency. Some cyber criminals have even managed to use guess attacks to obtain people’s credit card numbers and expiry dates. The card verification value (CVV) — the three digits on the back of the card — is meant to protect against these crimes. However, some websites may not require those numbers, making fraudulent transactions harder to track.

The contactless payment boom

The UK managed to adopt contactless payment technologies earlier than much of the world. Contactless cards were made available in 2007, far ahead of the U.S., which only integrated the technology for it in 2015. Spending limits were increased over time, and people can now spend up to £100 using their contactless cards. Contactless cards or online banking usage in the country saw a monumental rise in recent years; in 2022, 90% of face-to-face transactions in the UK were done without physical cash.

Unfortunately, technology has made stealing card information easier and less suspicious, and even the most vigilant can fall victim, if not careful. As such, businesses investing in a portable card reader must choose product providers that place a premium on security. Case in point, Worldpay offers a SaferPayments program, where they report an organisation’s data security compliance to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards every year. This system aims to protect sensitive card data, reduce the chances of a security breach in a business, and guard against the need for fines or non-compliance charges.

On an individual level, people must be aware of cyber criminals’ tactics and methods to avoid having their card details stolen. Phishing scams are often meant to sound urgent or make a person feel panicked or curious, so they’re compelled to learn more. A caller or messenger’s information and background should be thoroughly checked before any exchanges or transactions are made. Passwords and PINs for bank accounts and online banking apps should be different per account and should not be a sequence that is easy to guess. In the event of a scam, contact your bank to report the incident immediately.

With UK inflation rates increasing food prices and the costs of other necessities, credit card fraud further exacerbates the financial security issues of the country’s citizens and businesses in a difficult time. Without the proper policies and security measures for the growing number of card and contactless transactions, these crimes may persist so card holders should be aware.