Fraud Prevention

Plastic Cards

A great deal of plastic card fraud can be prevented if cardholders take simple steps to protect themselves and remember some key points:

  • Treat your cards like cash.
  • Always check your bank and credit card statements carefully - report any unusual transactions to your bank or card issuer immediately.
  • Store personal information securely and dispose of it carefully
  • Rip up or shred documents that contain personal, sensitive or financial information.
  • Keep your PIN secret, don't write it down and keep it with your card, don't tell it to anyone else, including your card issuer or the police and never let anyone else use your card and your PIN.
  • Don’t let your card out of your sight and never leave it unattended
  • Sign any new cards as soon as they arrive and ensure that you cut up the old card as soon as the new card becomes valid.
  • Report lost or stolen cards to your card issuer immediately. The telephone number will be on your last statement.

Cash Machines

Take simple precautions at cash machines too:

  • If you feel that someone near a cash machine is behaving suspiciously, or they make you feel uncomfortable then choose a different machine
  • If anything looks unusual on the machine or it looks as though it may have been tampered with do not use it and report it to the bank.
  • be aware of your surroundings and if you feel that someone is standing too close and may be able to observe you entering your PIN then cancel the transaction and go to a different machine.
  • stand close to the machine and always shield the key pad to avoid anyone being able to see you enter your PIN.
  • once you have completed a transaction put your card and money away discreetly before you leave the machine.
  • if the cash machine retains your card report this to the bank immediately
  • dispose of your cash machine receipt, mini statement or balance enquiry with care - preferably by tearing them up or shredding them before you discard them.

Internet – Shopping

While the internet has opened up many opportunities for law abiding citizens it has also presented fraudsters with new ways of committing fraud while helping them to remain anonymous, and enabling them to commit crime that crosses international borders. When on-line bear in mind these tips that will enable you to shop with confidence:

  • Use a computer that you know is secure i.e. has up to date anti virus software and a firewall installed.
  • Beware of using internet cafes or public computers for financial transactions.
  • Only shop at secure websites - check that the unbroken padlock symbol is showing before sending your card details and that beginning of the retailers internet address has changed from http to https (which indicates a secure site).
  • Deal with companies or individuals you know by reputation or experience. If you aren't familiar with the company, do your research. Find out their address and phone number. Do not conduct business with a company that doesn't list a physical address or telephone number on its Web site.
  • Keep a record of any transaction you make - preferably print it out. Understand what you are paying for, know the merchant's refund policy and delivery conditions and have the merchant's postal address.
  • Look for a privacy policy. Be sure that you are comfortable with how the company collects, protects, and uses your personal information before you submit any details. Responsible marketers have an "opt-out" policy, which allows you to choose whether your information is shared with third parties.
  • Ensure the business has a fair and clear process for submitting complaints and/or cancelling orders.
  • Remember, unlike secure order forms on a Web site, e-mail messages are not private. Do not send confidential personal or financial information by e-mail.
  • Talk to your children about online activities. Instruct them to keep their personal information private unless you approve.

Internet – Banking

  • Beware of using internet cafes or public computers for financial transactions.
  • Check that the unbroken padlock symbol is showing before sending your logon details and that beginning of the bank’s internet address has changed from http to https (which indicates a secure site).
  • Keep PINs, passwords and personal information safe. Be wary of any e-mails asking you to click on a link or confirm your details. Remember that banks and the police will never ask you to disclose or confirm sensitive personal or security information. If you have any concerns about information that you have been asked to submit on line you should phone the organisation concerned on a number advertised elsewhere to check.
  • Make sure that you keep your cards and card details safe in the real world. Most internet, phone and mail order fraud happens because card details have been stolen in the real world and then used in the virtual world.

Emails – Phishing

You will commonly receive what appears to be a genuine e-mail from a company such as a bank, that is fraudulent to trick you into disclosing information that ordinarily you would not disclose.

For example, 2003 saw the proliferation of a phishing scam in which users received e-mails supposedly from eBay claiming that the user's account was about to be suspended unless he clicked on the provided link and updated the credit card information that the genuine eBay already had. Because it is relatively simple to make a Web site look like a legitimate organisations site by mimicking the HTML code, the scam counted on people being tricked into thinking they were actually being contacted by eBay and were subsequently going to eBay's site to update their account information. By spamming large groups of people, the "phisher" counted on the e-mail being read by a percentage of people who actually had listed credit card numbers with eBay legitimately. There are many variations of the scam but in essence it is to obtain your personal information in order to commit fraud primarily on your account or using your personal details. These e-mails can purport to be from every day high street banks such as your own. Sometimes they will appear even more legitimate as they give advice on how to avoid fraud but at the same time asking you to follow a link and key in your personal details and password etc to confirm or update your security information with the bank. However it will not be the bank you're communicating with it will be the fraudster. Some will carry Trojans in order that if you open and delete there will still be a Trojan in the background obtaining your information when you log into your bank etc.

Delete them without opening them. Ideally forward them onto your internet provider to take the appropriate action or the financial institution to which the e-mail is purporting to be from.

Only log onto your bank, credit card…etc by your normal recognised route. Always operate and update your firewalls, virus software and spyware and do regular scans.

Be careful of cold callers on the phone who may purport to be a marketing company or representing your bank and may operate the same scam but over the phone rather than the internet.


Some hints for protecting your email address:

  • Ensure that you are protected by personal firewall and anti-virus software. Keep them regularly updated
  • Report as abuse to senders ISP any messages you receive
  • Never reply to any email you are unsure of
  • Send all banking related phishing emails to
    Paypal emails to and Ebay

Protect yourself from property fraud 

Your property is probably the most valuable asset you own. That's why it's important you do whatever you can to protect it from the risk of fraud.

Make sure your property is registered. Then, if you become an innocent victim of fraud and suffer a loss as a consequence, you will be compensated.

Fraudsters often target properties where there is no mortgage or the owner lives elsewhere. They may attempt to acquire the title by using a forged transfer or impersonating the owner.

One way to help stop them is to ensure the contact details the Land Registry hold for you are up to date. When the Land Registry receive an application regarding your property, they may write to you about it. If your contact details are not up to date, you may not receive our letter or email.

You can provide them with three different addresses, including an email address and an address abroad. Download and complete the following form here, to add an address or update your existing contact details. There is no charge for this service.

Click here, to read more about the Land Registry.


Beware of providing personal information from callers to your mobile, home or work phone. Ask the caller to provide part of the security information that they hold, without you having to provide all of your personal information.

If you are not happy with the caller’s explanation as to the reason of the call refuse to provide any information and ask for the main switchboard number and their extension number so that you can call them back.

Don’t feel bad about refusing to provide personal information and ending the call. Alternatively make your own enquiries with the company via the published numbers of the reverse of the card or statements.

  • Report any suspicious phone calls to your phone company.
  • Consider registering your number with Telephone Preference Service (TPS Online) or 0845 070 0707
  • Never give personal details over the phone, unless you are happy with the true identity of the called


  • Beware of unwanted mail from outside this country or from a Post-box address in this country. Lottery and cashback fraudsters are increasingly using these.
  • Consider registering with Mail Preference Service (MPS Online) or 0845 703 4599.
  • For more information about Postal Scam's please see this website Think Jessica

Selling things online / auction sites

We would recommend in all cases to use the payment tools that are offered by the auction site, this should protect you and your money.

People often circumvent this route in order to save on transaction fees or through the insistence of the buyer.

Should you receive payment for a lot more than the agreed price, then you should be wary. You may receive constant calls, emails or texts from the buyer asking for confirmation that the money has been received and for the balance to be sent as soon as possible, along with the goods.

In some instances it has transpired that the money was either from a stolen cheque or transferred from a customer’s account without their authority. Where you choose not to use the auction site's payment tools:

  • Be sure of whom you are dealing with
  • Don't release funds until cheques have cleared
  • Be very wary of cheques made out in excess of the asking price

If you’re thinking of buying on an online auction, make sure that the address and postcode provided by the supplier is valid. If you’ve got doubts, don’t send any money. If you do fall victim to fraud on an online auction, contact your nearest police station or report it to us on 0845 090 1234.

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