Online fraud up 71% as scammers steal £30m from bank accounts

12th September 2014

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Online banking fraud has increased 71% in the past year, with £30 million stolen from accounts in the UK.

Figures from Financial Fraud Action UK (FFAUK) showed online bank fraud rose from £17.1 million in the first six months of 2013 to £29.3 million in the first half of 2014 as banks trying to move away from branch-based banking to remote, online banking.

The increase is due to increasingly sophisticated scams fraudsters use to persuade consumers to part with personal and financial information, as well as criminals’ use of computer viruses.

Telephone banking fraud increased 20% from £5.5 million to £6.6 million and remote banking fraud losses rose 59% from £29.3 million to £35.9 million. Business accounts have been a particular target for fraudsters as they allow higher value transactions.

As the preference for paying on plastic increases it is no surprise that  fraud losses on UK cards totalled £247.6 million between January and June this year, an increase of 15% from £216.1 million in the same period last year. Fraud as a proportion of card purchases has remained flat at 7.4% for every £100 spent.

FFAUK said there has been a growth of deception crimes aimed at individuals and businesses and a combination of chip and pin and advanced fraud screening means scammers are concentrating on gaining access to personal financial details from individuals rather than attacking bank security systems.

The organisation warned of an increasing problem in criminals phoning people at home posing as the bank, police or a government department. The cold call will involve the fraudster tricking their victim into revealing personal or financial information, such as their pin number or online banking details, transferring money to another account, or accepting a courier into their home to pick up their card.

Worryingly, 25% of people do not challenge the identity of a cold-caller.

Detective chief inspector Perry Stokes, head of the cheques and plastic crime unit, said: ‘Be very suspicious of phone calls, texts or emails which come out of the blue asking for personal or financial details, regardless of who they claim to represent.

‘Be aware of the warning signs: your bank will never ask you for your four-digit pin, to transfer or withdraw money, or to give your card to a courier. We are asking members of the public to pass this information on to any family and friends who may be unaware.’

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