Being a victim of credit card fraud can have a potentially devastating impact on the victims. But how common is it and how has this changed over time?
Credit card fraud can relate to any compromise of your information from a credit card. This could mean money taken directly from credit accounts, your information, or the card itself being stolen to defraud you.
But how much has the problem changed over time and what are the most common types of credit card fraud to watch out for?
The experts at money.co.uk have looked into the latest credit card fraud data from the UK, US and Australia to find out.
If you’re looking for a credit card, be sure to compare balance transfer and purchase credit cards for the best deal, but always remember to take the necessary precautions to avoid falling victim to fraud.
In total, there were 475,038 cheque, plastic card and online bank account offences reported to the three main reporting bodies in the last financial year.
That’s a considerable increase of 67% compared to five years previously and compared to 2012-13, offences have more than doubled.
|Date||Cheque, plastic card and online bank accounts (not PSP) offences|
|Apr 2012 to Mar 2013||222,272|
|Apr 2013 to Mar 2014||226,087|
|Apr 2014 to Mar 2015||254,479|
|Apr 2015 to Mar 2016||293,683|
|Apr 2016 to Mar 2017||284,607|
|Apr 2017 to Mar 2018||266,538|
|Apr 2018 to Mar 2019||297,234|
|Apr 2019 to Mar 2020||338,130|
|Apr 2020 to Mar 2021||298,815|
|Apr 2021 to Mar 2022||475,038|
Two types of credit fraud stand out ahead of all others by some distance. The most common is plastic card fraud, with over 2.8 million offences, which relates to compromising the data of a physical card. This includes debit card fraud and other cards like store cards.
Not far behind in second place is remote purchase fraud, with 2.5 million incidents. This refers to incidents when a scammer convinces you to give up your credit card details, perhaps over the phone or via the internet. This is also the type of fraud that has increased the most, with incidents doubling in the last five years.
After this, every other type of card fraud, such as stolen cards, or a counterfeit card being created was far less common. Not receiving a card was the least common type of fraud with only 8,188 offences.
|Rank||Payment type||Fraud incidents|
|1||Plastic card fraud||2,877,141|
|2||Remote purchase fraud||2,505,863|
|3||Lost and stolen||287,875|
|5||Card ID theft||30,693|
|6||Card not received||8,188|
Some groups are more likely to be hit by credit card fraud than others. In terms of age, you might expect older people to be most commonly targeted. However, the group most likely to be targeted is those aged 45 to 54, with 5% saying that they had been victims.
The group that experiences the fewest incidents is the youngest, with just 2.6% of 18 to 25-year-olds being victims.
Those who were born outside of the UK are more likely to be targeted than those who weren’t. 4.9% of people born outside the UK said that they have been victims of credit fraud, compared to just 3.9% of those born in the country.
There are also noticeable differences when it comes to marital status. People who are separated are the most likely to be victims, 6.6% of the population. That’s compared to just 4% of those who are married, 3.9% of single people and 3.4% of widowers.
Those living in the capital are most likely to be hit with credit fraud, with 6% of adults in London saying they had been victims.
And it seems that your region has a fairly big impact. The rate of people who said that they had suffered credit fraud was less than half of that in Wales, at 2.6%.
|Rank||Measures taken to prevent unauthorised access||Percentage of people taking these measures|
|1||Regularly check transactions on bank statements||79%|
|2||Shred/burn/destroy financial documents (e.g. receipts, statements)||72%|
|3||Shield 'PIN' at cash points/in shops/restaurants, etc.||66%|
|4||Only purchase items from secure websites (e.g. padlock icon)||53%|
|5||Use computer security measures (e.g. firewall, anti-virus software)||51%|
|6||Check if cash points appear to have been tampered with||48%|
|7||Keep record of ‘PIN’ separately from cards/no record of ‘PIN’ kept||47%|
|8||Keep card in view when paying in shops/restaurants, etc||42%|
|9||Only use a credit card rather than debit card online||20%|
|10||Only use cash points that are inside||15%|
|11||Avoid purchasing items on the internet||12%|
|12||Taken out insurance against loss of cards/card fraud||11%|
|13||Have separate card to use for online purchases only||9%|
|13||Frequently change ‘PIN’||9%|
|15||Never use cash points||6%|
|17||Some other type of precaution||3%|
|16||None of these||4%|
There are lots of steps that you can take to ensure that you don’t fall foul of credit card fraud, but not everyone does so.
Some steps are very widely adopted, such as regularly checking statements from credit card issuers for irregular transactions, with almost 80% saying they do this.
Other common measures include destroying financial documents like receipts (72%) and shielding PINs when making payments (66%).
However, 4% of people said that they took no such precautions at all. 6% of people said they go as far as to not use cash points at all, while 9% regularly change their PIN.
In the US, there were 389,827 reports of credit card fraud in 2021, with 338,684 in the first three quarters of 2022.
While that’s actually a slight decrease on 2020, when there were 393,416 reports, credit card fraud has certainly been on the rise in recent years.
In 2018, there were just 157,749, meaning that they had increased by just under 150% by 2020, with the COVID pandemic likely playing a part.
Unfortunately, data specifically regarding credit card fraud isn’t available by state or metro area, so here’s a look at fraud and ID theft more generally.
|Year||Credit card fraud reports|
When looking per 100,000 people, Nevada is the state where you’re most likely to be scammed.
There were 1,542 reports of fraud and ID theft per 100,000 people in the state in 2021, more than any other state in the country.
This was followed by Georgia, with 1,495 and Maryland with 1,477 per 100,000 people respectively.
Outside of Nevada, each of the top five states is located in the South Atlantic region and eight of the top ten are located in the South.
|Rank||State||Total number of fraud 2021||Fraud per 100,000 people in 2021|
Contrastingly, each of the three states least likely to experience fraud are located in the West North Central US.
The state that had the fewest reports per 100,000 people was South Dakota. This was followed by neighbouring North Dakota (636 per 100,000 people) and Iowa (666 per 100,000 people). The majority of the ten safest states were located in the Midwest of the USA.
|Rank||State||Total number of fraud 2021||Fraud per 100,000 people in 2021|
Looking at how much the level of fraud & ID theft has changed between 2018 and 2021, two states have seen their rates double.
The first is perhaps slightly surprising, with the number of reports per 100,000 increasing by 135% in Alaska.
The other is Louisiana, where the rate increased from 614 to 1,298 per 100,000 people between 2018 and 2021.
The rate of fraud increased in all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
|Rank||Category||Fraud reports||% of total fraud reports|
|3||Credit Bureaus, Info. Furnishers and Report Users||594,565||10.11%|
|4||Online Shopping and Negative Reviews||410,856||6.98%|
|5||Banks and Lenders||206,931||3.52%|
|6||Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries||154,785||2.63%|
|10||Business and Job Opportunities||105,309||1.79%|
In the US, credit card fraud is only the 16th most common type of fraud, with 68,609 reports in 2021.
The most common was identity theft, which includes credit card fraud, with 1.4 million reports, making up almost a quarter of all fraud cases. This is followed by imposter scams, with just shy of one million reports.
|Age||Median loss||Fraud reports per 100,000 people|
|20 - 29||$500||173.36|
|30 - 39||$500||181.07|
|40 - 49||$496||158.89|
|50 - 59||$500||130.76|
|60 - 69||$520||134.92|
|70 - 79||$800||124.26|
As is the case in the UK, the oldest members of society aren’t the most likely to experience fraud.
Those 80 and over are the least likely to report fraud, with 67.98 per 100,000 people. Instead, the most commonly targeted age bracket is those aged 30 to 39, with 181.07 reports per 100,000 people.
However, it does seem that older victims suffer greater financial losses. While the average loss stays fairly consistently around $500 for most ages, it increases to $800 for 70 to 79s and $1,500 over 80 and overs.
In Australia, around AU$495 million was defrauded from consumers in 2021, which equates to 57.3 cents per AU$1,000 spent on cards.
In total, there were 4.27 million fraudulent transactions in 2021, with an average value of AU$116 per transaction.
The amount of fraudulent activity in the country has gone up by just under 20% in the last four years.
However, the actual amount of money that has been defrauded has fallen during this time, dropping by 12% from AU$561 million in 2017.
The most common type of credit card fraud in Australia, by a significant margin, is card-not-present scams, with AU$451.8 million lost in 2021.
Card-not-present transactions are, as the name suggests, transactions where the card isn’t physically used to pay for the goods.
The majority of these fraudulent transactions will occur either when someone has stolen your card or accessed your credit card details to use it online.
In second place are instances of lost or stolen cards, however, these account for AU$28.9 million, far less than car-not-present.
|Rank||Type of fraud||Fraudulent transactions|
|2||Lost / stolen||AU$28.9m|
|4||Counterfeit / skimming||AU$5.5m|
Destroy financial documents - Once you are finished with any financial documents, ensure that they are appropriately destroyed before throwing them away. Whether that be receipts, bank statements, letters from your bank or any other document that includes personal information. This could be by shredding or burning, as long as your financial details cannot be deciphered before you throw them in the bin.
Shield your pin - One of the easiest ways to prevent credit fraud is by shielding your pin whenever you use your card. This could be at the checkout whilst shopping, using a cash point to withdraw money, or paying at a restaurant. Alternatively, using payment methods such as Apple or Google pay can be a good way to protect your pin number from fraudsters.
Regularly check your credit card statements - You should review statements from your credit card company on a monthly basis to check for any unusual transactions. If you do notice suspicious activity, it’s vital that you report them to your bank straight away. Look out for transactions abroad or numerous transactions of extremely small amounts.
Protect yourself online - Fraudsters commonly steal credit card details online, so it’s important to take preventative measures which minimise the risks. Firstly, only purchase from web pages you trust. Look out for the padlock icon and URLs starting with “HTTPS” to decipher if the site is secure. It’s also advised to invest in computer security measures, such as firewalls and antivirus software to protect your device from malicious attacks. In addition to this, only make purchases online using a private connection and avoid public wifi, which is easily targeted by scammers.
Be aware of scam emails, texts, and calls - A common way that fraudsters target victims is through scam emails, texts, and calls. It’s always important to be aware of the risk of these scams. Look out for calls, texts, and emails from unknown contact details who ask for your personal information or access to your phone or computer. Scammers are also likely to offer you deals that seem to be good to be true.
Credit card fraud is wide-ranging but the simplest definition is any type of fraud that involves a credit card.
Essentially, any time someone else uses your credit card to purchase goods or steal money from your account, this would be classed as credit card fraud.
This could mean having your card stolen, or it could be copied or ‘skimmed’. Card skimming is referred to when a clone is made of the card.
Credit card fraud could also mean having just your card details stolen, or having someone fraudulently apply for a card using your details.
Data security is the practice of protecting digital information from being accessed or stolen by others.
It's a very broad-ranging term as it can refer to protecting the actual hardware or software used to store data, or the information used to gain access to it.
Data security is important for everyone, from the people at the top of the world’s biggest companies, down to individual consumers.
Banks can close your account if they suspect that there may be suspicious activity taking place on the account.
While this is done for the safety of your information, it can be frustrating if it turns out that there actually was no fraudulent activity.
Regardless, banks can close an account with no explanation or warning if they deem there to be a threat.
England & Wales
All data sourced from the Office for National Statistics’ nature of fraud and computer misuse in England and Wales: appendix tables.
All data sourced from the Federal Trade Commission's Fraud and ID Theft Maps.
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