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Want to know how you can help protect yourself from credit and debit card fraud? Here are some of the most common scams and how you can avoid them.

Lost and stolen card fraud

This takes place when a lost or stolen card is used by a fraudster posing as you. Most lost and stolen card fraud occurs before you report the loss.

To protect yourself:

  • Report any lost or stolen cards immediately
  • Use chip and PIN cards where possible
  • Only carry the cards you need
  • Avoid placing cards in your pockets, where they can easily fall out
  • Make sure that your cards fit snugly inside your wallet or purse
  • Take precautions to avoid your card being stolen - for example, don't leave your handbag unattended or carry your wallet in your back pocket
  • Always shield your PIN from any observers when using cash machines.

Counterfeit card fraud or skimming

A counterfeit card can be a fake card or a valid one that's been altered or recoded.
Most cases of this fraud involve skimming, the process by which the data on your card's magnetic stripe is electronically copied onto another card without your knowledge.

Skimming commonly occurs at retail outlets - particularly bars, restaurants and petrol stations - and at cash machines that have been illegally fitted with a skimming device. The stolen data is then used to create counterfeit cards.

Most people are unaware that they've fallen victim to this fraud until their statements arrive.

To protect yourself:

  • Don't leave your card with bar or restaurant staff for long periods
  • Don't let retail staff take your card away to process payments
  • Check cash machines for signs of tampering before you use them.

Card-not-present fraud

This is the most common type of card fraud in the UK. It takes place when fraudsters steal your card details and use them to make purchases over the internet or by phone, fax or mail. Always be aware of who you’re dealing with.

To protect yourself:

  • Avoid entering your card details on shared or public computers
  • Always remember to log out of any websites where you've entered your card details
  • Only enter your card details on secure sites that you trust, preferably with merchants using the 3-D secure service
  • Keep a close eye on your statements and report any fraudulent transactions immediately
  • If you do a lot of online shopping you may want to consider using a debit card with a low balance, or credit card with a low limit, specifically for online purchases.

Mail-non-receipt fraud

This fraud occurs when you order a new card and it's stolen in transit. You're at particular risk of this fraud if you live in a property with a communal letterbox, such as a block of flats or a student residence hall.

To protect yourself:

  • Find out how long it will take for any new cards to be mailed out to you and contact your card provider straightaway if they don't arrive on time.

Identity theft on cards

This takes place when a fraudster uses your personal information to open or access card accounts in your name. There are two types:

  • Application fraud takes place when stolen or fake identification documents are used to open an account in your name
  • Account takeover takes place when fraudsters use your personal information to pose as you and convince your bank to make payments from your accounts, order new cards and chequebooks, and so on.

To protect yourself:

  • Shred bills, bank statements and other documents containing your personal details before disposing of them
  • If you use social networking sites, display as little personal data on your page as possible
  • If you suspect your mail is being stolen in the UK, contact the Royal Mail Customer Enquiry Line on 0845 774 0740 to check if a mail redirection order has been made in your name without your knowledge
  • If you move house, ask Royal Mail to redirect your mail and advise the companies that you do business with straight away.

If you have a personal credit file check it regularly using a credit reference agency such as:

More information about card fraud

If you're planning to travel, it's best to let us know in advance. This helps avoid problems with using your cards and accounts abroad, as well as helping to protect you from fraud while you're away.

Card Watch contains useful information about card fraud for consumers and businesses.

Be Card Smart Online is packed with tips for protecting yourself against online card fraud and is specifically designed for online shoppers.

The identity theft website developed by the Government, Metropolitan Police and various industry bodies contains detailed information about identity theft and how you can avoid it. Our guide to identity theft summarises some of the key points from this website.

If you’re worried about the security of your account, contact us.

Cheque fraud

How does cheque fraud take place?

Want to know how you can protect yourself from cheque fraud? Follow our tips and you'll be well on your way.

Cheque fraud takes place when a fraudster uses a stolen or counterfeit cheque to pay for goods and services. More than 90% of fraudulent cheques are stopped before any loss occurs. But even so, cheque fraud still costs millions of pounds a year.

These losses can be compounded when the fraud also involves an 'overpayment'. This happens when the fraudster - who is often part of an organised gang - targets the seller of a high value item, such as a car, and offers to pay using a stolen or counterfeit cheque made out to more than the price of the goods. Once the cheque clears, the victim is asked to transfer this 'overpayment' to a third party, as well as handing over the item to the fraudster.

When the real cheque owner discovers that money has been stolen from their account, the victim can be obliged to repay the total sum - even if this happens several weeks later.

How to protect yourself against cheque fraud:

  • Don't accept cheques from anyone unless you know and trust them, especially when a high-value cheque is involved
  • Be aware that there's a risk that money credited to your account from a cheque could be reclaimed if the cheque turns out to be stolen or counterfeit
  • Always consider other ways of accepting payment for high-value items - a CHAPS payment, or guaranteed, same-day bank transfer, is ideal. Be especially wary if the buyer is unwilling to pay or split the relatively small cost involved with you
  • Keep your chequebook in a safe place
  • Report any missing cheques to your bank immediately
  • Always check your bank statements thoroughly.

If you think you've fallen victim to identity theft on your Barclays cards or accounts, contact us.