13th March 2017 at 12:41pm
Chances are, you, or someone you know has been a victim of credit or debit card fraud. And it’s no different for me too, now I myself have not been victim to fraud thank goodness. But I didn’t have to look far to hear stories of fraud from my friends.
With fraud losses totalling £755m in 2015 and increasing by 53% in the first six months of 2016 it seems the scammers have no intention to stop their schemes.
So here we go, three different stories from three different people, with three different outcomes and advice to help you stay safe.
Alison’s Story: £250 was taken from my account
It’s Christmas time and Alison, like most of us, has made a high street dash to get all of her gifts sorted in time for the big day.
“I usually check my account regularly, but because of the Christmas shopping weekend I checked the account on the Tuesday afterwards just to double check how much I have left.
I spotted two unauthorised transactions – withdrawals of funds abroad totalling around £250 between the two of them.
I called the bank immediately, they confirmed it was a fraud as I was not abroad that weekend and the bank could not even identify the currency the withdrawal was taken in as it wasn’t on the bank’s system.”
“Because I’m careful, I never keep all my funds in one account. So thankfully the fraudsters couldn’t physically take any more as there was nothing left in the account. How terrifying it would be if I kept it all in one account? So I’d say try and spread your money across different accounts if you can.
I also don’t use websites I’m not certain about, give out my personal details, click on suspicious links or take out cash from suspicious cash machines.”
George’s story: Fraudsters took out a £9,000 loan in my name
It’s early in the year of 2015, and George has received letters stating he had set up a ‘WorldPay’ account. Disregarding each piece of mail George thought it was simply spam.
“I woke up on Valentine’s Day 2015, having just landed in Boston the day before.
I reviewed my credit card mobile app to see what conversion rates I’d been charged for the evening before and noticed three transactions that were all from the same merchant and amounted to in excess of £2,000.
Each transaction referenced the fact that the transaction had been made ‘with card present’ which was impossible as I was 3,000 miles away.
Immediately I called my credit card company and cancelled my cards. Thankfully I was refunded the £2,000.
After reviewing my credit file, I noticed that there were even more credit checks that had been applied on my account under the name ‘Murphy’s Plumbers’.
After getting home from my two weeks away, I noticed yet another letter from WorldPay which I reviewed more carefully. It was congratulating me on setting up a new business account.
I contacted Action Fraud straight away and advised them of my situation, and soon afterwards the police called round. It seemed someone had cloned my card through an ATM, and there was no way of tracking down the culprit.
After about a week, I received all my documentation from Equifax. They highlighted even more fraud on my account. This time a business account had been set up with American Express under which a £9,000 loan had been taken out. The culprit? Murphy’s Plumbers once again. They were able to cancel the loan but it had impacted my credit score.
“Check your credit file, it can be really useful and you can spot if someone’s been applying for credit in your name straight away. Also, set up as much extra security that you can with your providers, that way it makes it harder for the fraudsters to access your funds. The final element that I introduced was additional security on all of my financial accounts.”
Kelly’s Story : £500 taken and no refund in sight
It’s Kelly’s 27th birthday, and she is celebrating with friends in Manchester. As she has used up her funds in her UK bank account, she decides to use her German card for the evening.
“I withdrew some cash just around the corner from my house. Later I paid for a few drinks with the same card in a bar.
Two days later I happened to check the statement of my credit card, and it turned out that later that night cash withdrawals had been made for about £500!
I hadn’t lost my card, nor had I shared my pin code with anybody so I had no idea how someone had managed to take cash out with my card.
I called the bank and it turned out the withdrawals had been made just a ten minute walk away from the bar.
The bank also advised that they could not gain access to the CTTV, and even if they could the quality would be so bad that you could probably be useless.
As I could not ‘prove’ that it hadn’t been me withdrawing the money I sadly never got refunded.’’
‘I now take extra care when entering my pin code, and check the ATM if it looks ‘dodgy’. I also check my bank account regularly for any transfers I haven’t made.’
So, three different situations, with three very different outcomes. Fraud can strike when you least expect it, so it is vital to stay vigilant.
Kelly, Alison and George suggest a range of ways to stay a step ahead but if you would like some more information take a look at Financial Fraud Action UK for tips and what to do if the worst happens to you.