New fraud intelligence released today (07/12/12) demonstrates the extent of the rise of an audacious telephone-based deception targeting British credit and debit card holders.

Figures released by Financial Fraud Action UK and The UK Cards Association show that the scam has already caused over £7.5m worth of fraud on credit and debit cards between January and August 2012. Over that time, more than 1,600 bank customers have fallen victim, with average losses per case weighing in at over £4,200.

Police are warning of an exponential rise in reported cases, with intelligence showing the estimated amount stolen through this method over the first eight months of this year was already ten times the amount stolen during the whole of 2011. The deception, undertaken by criminal gangs, tends to target elderly and vulnerable bank customers, with fraud intelligence showing that the average age of victims is 69. Particular hot spots for this crime in the UK include London, Surrey and Strathclyde.

The scam involves a person being called by a criminal posing as someone from their bank, or even the police. The caller tells the victim that their credit or debit card needs collecting and replacing following fraud on their account. Police have found that the criminal caller reassures the victim that the call is genuine by getting them to hang up and call the bank’s number for confirmation. Following this, the criminal caller stays on the line, tricking the victim into believing they are on a new call and that the person at the end of the line is their bank.

The criminal caller will then either ask the person for their PIN or ask them to key their PIN number into their telephone keypad, before sending a courier to collect the card. The victim is told that the card is going to the bank, but actually is delivered to the fraudster along with the PIN obtained during the scam.

The rapid spread of this fraud, and steep incline of losses, takes place against the background of some customers being unaware that bank staff will never request their card or PIN. New findings released today by Financial Fraud Action UK show that over one in ten (12%) bank customers do not realise they should NEVER reveal their card PIN.

If customers are victims of fraud, they will not suffer any financial loss.