Millions of people have fallen victim to credit card fraudsters over the last year, according to new research by comparethemarket.com. Over a fifth (21%) of consumers have had to replace or cancel their credit card as a result of attempted fraud, equating to 11 million people nationwide.

comparethemarket.com’s Credit Card Fraud Index found that in the majority of cases (51%), the breach resulted in money being stolen, with victims losing an average of £846 each. Based on these figures, comparethemarket.com estimates that £4.7 billion has been stolen from UK credit cards in the last year.

The data suggests that the scale of credit card cybercrime is getting worse. According to comparethemarket.com’s 2018 Credit Card Fraud Index, whilst a similar number of people had their card compromised (22%), the average amount stolen was £801. Whilst a difference of nearly £50 per person may not seem a huge jump, on a nationwide basis it equates to an extra half a billion pounds stolen over the course of the year.

People are most likely to be defrauded when making online payments, with 21% of respondents admitting this is how they were hacked. However, over one in ten (11%) said their account was compromised by a card skimmer – up from 4% last year – whereby fraudsters capture credit card information through small devices in seemingly safe transactions such as at an ATM or petrol station. Just 4% of victims said their credit card was physically stolen.

Despite high levels of credit card fraud, consumer awareness of the problem remains worrying low. In over a third of cases (37%), people who had their credit cards compromised did not know or couldn’t remember how the hack occurred. Similarly, inertia remains a problem with 82% of people admitting they have not changed and are not considering changing credit card provider, even after being defrauded.

As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, comparethemarket.com is urging borrowers to stay savvy online. Today sees the launch of comparethemarket.com’s new Cyber Security Challenge, where you can test your ability to recognise phishing emails, fraudulent websites and scams, and receive tips on how to avoid being hacked. Readers can complete the Challenge here.

John Crossley, Head of Money at comparethemarket.com said “Two of the busiest shopping days in the calendar year are fast approaching, so it is more important than ever that people remain cyber-savvy. Latest figures show that online sales now represent 18% of total UK retail sales, so around Black Friday and Cyber Monday customers should be extra vigilant, especially as our research suggests that fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated online. It’s important not to make yourself vulnerable to hackers. Ensuring you have separate passwords and pins for different accounts or cards, and are familiar will some of the tricks fraudsters use will help keep your money secure.”