Financial fraud losses across payment cards, remote banking and cheques totalled £768.8 million in 2016, an increase of 2 per cent on the previous year, figures from Financial Fraud Action UK show.

The new data shows banks and card companies prevented £1.38 billion of fraud last year, equivalent to £6.40 in every £10 of attempted fraud being stopped. Impersonation and deception scams, as well as online attacks to compromise data, continued to be the primary drivers behind financial fraud losses in 2016. In all of these methods criminals target personal and financial information, including card data, which is then used to facilitate fraud.

 The 2016 financial fraud data shows:

  • Losses due to payment card fraud were £618.0 million, an increase of 9 per cent from £567.5 million in 2015. A total of £982.4 million of attempted card fraud was prevented by banks and card companies, equivalent to £6.10 in every £10 of fraud being stopped.
  • Over 2016, card spending increased by six per cent, meaning card fraud as a proportion of spending equates to 8.3p for every £100 spent.
  • Within the overall card fraud figures, losses on card purchases made remotely increased by 9 per cent to £432.3 million.
  • Remote banking fraud losses totalled £137.1 million, a 19 per cent decrease from £168.6 million in 2015. A total of £205.4 million of attempted remote banking fraud losses were prevented, equivalent to £6 in every £10 of fraud being stopped.
  • Cheque fraud losses fell by 28 per cent to £13.7 million, the lowest ever annual total. A total of £196.2 million of attempted cheque fraud was prevented, equivalent to £9.40 in every £10 of fraud being stopped.
  • There were a total of 1,857,506 cases of financial fraud.

Katy Worobec, Director of Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK), said “Banks take the threat of fraud extremely seriously and continuously invest in advanced detection and verification systems to protect customers. At the same time criminals continue in their attempts to circumvent this security by targeting customers for their personal and security information. It’s vital that everyone follows the advice of our Take Five campaign and safeguards their details.

“The payments industry can’t stop all fraud on its own, so it’s essential that every organisation with a role to play unites to tackle it. We are particularly working with law enforcement and government, through the Joint Fraud Taskforce. It’s also vital for any organisation holding personal data to ensure they have robust systems in place to prevent data breaches. Across the industry, and with partners, we are developing new processes to help police intervene when potential victims visit a bank branch, and we are exploring new ways to track stolen funds moved between multiple bank accounts.”

Tony Blake, senior fraud prevention officer at the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, said: “Fraudsters are often extremely professional, so it’s important that you stay alert and guard your personal and financial details. Always take a moment to consider carefully any requests for your information and never disclose your security details, such as your PIN or full banking password. Criminals will do all they can to scare and pressure you into acting quickly without thinking. Don’t let anyone rush you. If you are ever the slightest bit unsure, put the phone down or don’t reply to the text or email. Instead contact the organisation on a phone number that you trust, such as the one on their official website.”

Commenting on the report John Marsden, Head of ID and Fraud at Equifax, said “Impersonation and deception scams, as well as online attacks to compromise data, dominated the fraud landscape during 2016. The UK is ahead of many other countries in improving fraud defences, but is also subject to a higher number of attacks and cannot afford to be complacent. As the tactics of fraudsters continue to evolve at an alarming rate, businesses need to focus on how they can keep up. The financial services industry in particular needs to continue working together to educate consumers and share information to help collectively tackle this activity, while also constantly improving their systems to both safeguard consumer personal data and implement appropriate steps to confirm transactions are being completed by genuine customers.

“Losses from payment card fraud totaled £618 million, up 9% from £567.5 million in 2015. These increases reflect fraudsters and scammers becoming increasingly bold in their activity, while customers continue to be victims of phishing scams, deception and hacking. Businesses too are also firmly in the sight of these sophisticated criminals, evidenced by big data breaches (such as Yahoo) between July and December last year. The criminals who steal this data sell it on to fraudsters via the dark web, creating more opportunities for unlawful activity.

“While some businesses are taking a more serious look at biometrics, there is scope for more investment in technology like this which would provide the necessary barriers to discourage fraudsters. Although getting ahead of fraudsters is not easy, businesses should do all they can to make any attempts by these criminals as difficult as possible.”